NASCAR plans to reevaluate its involvement in deciding race sponsors, following the controversy that shrouded last weekend’s NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. But I argue, however, that NASCAR should be hands-off when it comes to sponsorships.
Firstly, the NRA was a good fit for the Texas race – the winner shoots guns in victory lane. When asked about it, reigning most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. started talking about the guns he owns and his love for hunting. Track president Eddie Gossage said there were fewer than two dozen complaints sent to the track about the sponsorship.
And while the unfortunate death in the infield was caused by a gunshot, it was in no way connected to the name attached to advertisements. It’s not like the NRA passed out guns to race attendees as they entered the track. An advertisement is an advertisement – not a direct command to buy or advocate for that specific sponsor. NASCAR may want to have more control in approving sponsorship deals, but it won’t have any way to control how fans view each sponsor and interpret ads.
I’ve never owned or shot a gun, and I am aware of the political controversy that surrounds gun control. However, I also believe that NASCAR needs to stay out of any political fracas. Keep NASCAR as the relatively good officiating body that it is. If sponsors have the money and want to brand a race, let them. A soda company? Auto parts? Beer? Guns? It’s business...not the Senate floor.