What’s Behind the NASCAR-NRA Marriage?

With NRA sponsorship, NASCAR feeds its base at the risk of alienating potential new fans.

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Tom Pennington / Getty Images

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 4, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Businesses are always being squeezed by the twin pressures of creating new customers while not alienating the ones they have. That’s certainly been true of NASCAR, which has been trying to diversify its fan base beyond the aging white males who now constitute its largest audience segment. So in signing up the National Rifle Association to sponsor a top-flight Sprint Cup race at the Texas Motor Speedway— a race now called the NRA 500— NASCAR is feeding its base. But is that at the risk of alienating potential new fans elsewhere?  “We are never a political organization,” NASCAR chairman Brian France told me the day before the Daytona 500. “People are entitled to their own opinions. We will let them have their debate.”

France wasn’t addressing the NRA specifically then. In a statement, NASCAR said: “Race entitlement partnerships are agreements directly between the track and the sponsor. NASCAR reserves the right to approve or disapprove those sponsorships. The race sponsor for Texas Motor Speedway’s April event falls within the guidelines for approval for that event.”

NASCAR didn’t say what kind of sponsor would fall outside those guidelines. But the NRA 500 will take place just weeks after NASCAR hosted family members of victims of and first responders to the Newtown massacre at the Daytona 500, its biggest event. Michael Waltrip, who drives for Swan Racing, switched his racing car number to 26—to represent the number of shooting victims— to support the Sandy Hook Special Support Fund. Fans texted in donations from a number posted on every car in the race. NASCAR drivers and officials also visited Newtown, and France personally made a $50,000 donation, matching the amount given by the NASCAR Foundation.

To continue reading this article from TIME Sports, click here.

42 comments
retiredvet
retiredvet

I'm wondering if the use of Latin terms and clever synonyms are an indication of education and intelligence or merely an elitist attitude.

ThedaBarret
ThedaBarret

Isn't it fascinating how all the allegedly educated liberals can only resort to tired ad hominem attacks?

Cogent arguments are, obviously, beyond their capabilities.

AmiHoping
AmiHoping

@TIME @TIMEPolitics EZ answer; FOLLOW THE MONEY. Money buys ads promoting NRA agenda and plays right into hands of NASCAR bubba base

JohnPanzer
JohnPanzer

NASCAR has a history of exceptionally poor management at this level of Global mega-dollar sport. The old guard are bootlegging rum-runners, and god bless um, they are at the soul of American dream of freedom and automobiles. The Denny Hamlin fine and now the NRA 500, are good ole boys making Global economy management decisions. They have no idea why people go to races. The death decision was that race a few years ago, where the supplier brought the wrong tires, so they ran the race anyway and drove around on caution. They thought that was better then cancelling or just running it green. Short term money - long term brand killing. Now here's the NRA on the wrong side of American public policy for sane gun control, throwing a ton of money at what I suspect is a near bankrupt NASCAR. My favorite was when they decided to promote drinking and driving with liquor sponsors. Of course, you have whiskey and cars, all you need now is guns!

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

It's a marriage of cousins in the Republican family.

Please ditch the tweets.  They contribute nothing.

R_Cienfuegos
R_Cienfuegos

“%s: What's behind the NASCAR-NRA marriage? | %sWFc (v%sics%scks

BurtisD
BurtisD

@TIME @TIMEPolitics don't you agree its no different than NASCAR and any other contributing sponsor to the sport. Kind of a stupid question.

WerewlfCustServ
WerewlfCustServ

@TIME "What's behind the NASCAR-NRA marriage?" Rednecks...rednecks are behind it.

panchOopanchOo
panchOopanchOo

“%s: What's behind the NASCAR-NRA marriage? | %srjz (v%sics)%scks &am%si%shaw

PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

Wayne LaPierre. "The only thing that can stop a bad NASCAR audience member with a gun is a good NASCAR audience member with a gun. Guns for everybody!"

FrankBlank
FrankBlank

Yobbos meet yokels meet hicks, meet pekkerwoods.  Love ensues.  What a story!

Sparrow55
Sparrow55

Are NASCAR drivers now going to be allowed to carry concealed weapons in their cars?  Just think how this could cut down on accidents from over aggressive driving on the track.  An armed race car driver is a polite race car driver! 

MrObvious
MrObvious

 What’s Behind the NASCAR-NRA Marriage?


Stupid?

notsacredh
notsacredh

'What’s Behind the NASCAR-NRA Marriage?"

White people with guns.

KevinGroenhagen
KevinGroenhagen

So what's Alex's point? Did he expect NASCAR to team up with Code Pink?

retiredvet
retiredvet

Well, the tweets take up space at least.

retiredvet
retiredvet

I wonder who the babies will look like.

Gatorgirl4vr
Gatorgirl4vr

%s %s I'm sure those 'rednecks' are far more educated than your stupid ass! %s %s

Sparrow55
Sparrow55

@PerryWhite1 If guns for NASCAR drivers are outlawed then only outlaw NASCAR drivers will have guns. 

FrankBlank
FrankBlank

@Sparrow55 Excellent!  Nascar will be able to rent body armor to the fans.  Another revenue stream!

AfGuy
AfGuy

@sacredh 

And loud, fast cars... don't forget those.

My oldest just graduated from the NASCAR program in Mooresville, NC. Got tops in his class for the parts on NASCAR engine technology and Ford transmissions.  He's now a BMW tech in a southern city.  Right where he wants to be...

WerewlfCustServ
WerewlfCustServ

@Gatorgirl4vr Didn't say rednecks were stupid, just that those happen to be two interests of said rednecks. Also, college educated here.

Gatorgirl4vr
Gatorgirl4vr

@WerewlfCustServ redneck definition: an uneducated white farm laborer, especially from the South. It's no different than the 'n' word