Monday, July 14, 2008

Obama flirts with NASCAR

The Blogosphere erupted last week when several media outlets reported that Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee for president, planned to sponsor a Sprint Cup car for the Pocono race in August. Interesting way to reach a demographic that is usually turned off by the Democratic Party's platform, but smart move by the Obama camp to pull the plug.

It might have been a good idea had the campaign been able to connect with a powerhouse team such as Hendrick, Childress or Roush. But the reports said they planned to sponsor the No. 49 BAM car driven by Ken Schrader. If Obama really wanted to get his message out, he shouldn't have pondered picking a second-rate team and driver that probably won't even make the race (Schrader has raced only five times this year). Oh, how the pundits would slobber all over that juicy story. And the dirty little secret that surely would have doomed Obama’s flirt with NASCAR is that BAM Racing uses Toyotas. There’s no better way to alienate potential good ole boy supporters than putting a candidate’s mug on the hood of a Japanese car.

Meanwhile, Cindy McCain, the wife of Republican nominee Sen. John McCain, had her own excursion with racing this weekend. She rode in the pace car before the Indy Car Series race at Nashville Speedway on Sunday. But what’s the attraction to Indy cars? Most of the drivers are foreign and there aren’t any American engines entered in the field anymore. It’s probably a bad idea to remind us of the dwindling influence this country has in the world.

Candidates will do most anything to reach a different audience, but as a word of advice: Please keep the politics out of racing. Unless, of course, the next President picks Dale Earnhardt Jr. as his Secretary of State. Then you've got my vote.


El Duffo O Muerte said...

Don't you mean the National Guard Go Daddy's Secretary of Quaker State's Office as presented by Mountain Dew?

Mike Jones said...

Do you think it would be too much to put big No. 88 and Mountain Dew stickers on the presidential motorcade?

Roger said...

These appearances and attempts to sway voters are such a joke they make the candidates look silly. Their attempts at visibility are so vain, so misplaced, they disclose the lack of knowledge of motor sports. Somebody in a campaign meeting says, "... we need to appeal to the block of voters associated with NASCAR, ... I hear the fan base is large, ... what can we do?"

Are these actions indicative of the leadership qualities of these candidates? Sad, very sad indeed.

Mike Jones said...

Don't get me wrong, Roger. I think it would be effective for Obama or McCain to sponsor a race car as long as it was competitive. And I saw a pretty good opportunity for the campaigns to handout fliers and stickers in Swag City. I just don't like when the candidates, or their wives, go to places where they are clueless about the culture, like you said. Maybe it's an opportunity for them to learn a little bit about the people who attend? I don't know.

Scott Beveridge said...

When I covered President Bush in Pittsburgh a few years ago, he said it was good to be back in the "Education City." Oops. Did he mean to say "Steel City."

Roger said...

Mike, do you think that a competitive team, such as Rousch, Hendricks, Childress, etc. would be willing to take a sponsorship? To take a sponsorship would imply an endorsement for the candidate. Doing so, they would be setting themselves up for a label, one they may not wish to carry.

For a lesser team, they don't have nearly as much to loose. They don't carry the public image as the larger teams. I'm not familiar with the inner workings of these teams, but I sense that the lesser teams are often desperate for money. They will stretch themselves, willing to take any criticism of endorsing a candidate, for the sake of the money.

Other sponsorships, such as National Guard, Army, etc. are more "generic." They will not incur any criticisms of holding the sponsorships. But, if a candidate has their name pasted across the car, the team and driver, are obligated to give credit, and endorsement.

Mike Jones said...

I couldn't agree with you more. A campaign sponsorship would not benefit the larger teams much, but it certainly could benefit the candidate. I would imagine those large teams would face some scrutiny from fans about whomever they put on their car. Those teams, for the most part, are financially secure and already have sponsorships for the whole season. But what about Yates racing, which does not have full sponsors for either can but is still in the Top-35?

Those other small teams such as BAM are starved for attention, and think how much coverage this political stunt got them. Maybe a Mom n' Pop company will toss some money their way for a one-race deal.