SBD/February 16, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

U.S. Rep. McCollum Seeks A Ban On Military Dollars For NASCAR Sponsorships

National Guard sponsors Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Sprint Cup car
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) has “introduced an amendment to a 2011 budget bill to ban the military from sponsoring NASCAR teams,” according to Dustin Long of the Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT. Military branches have been affiliated with NASCAR teams “for years, believing it helped recruiting.” The National Guard sponsors Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Sprint Cup car, while the U.S. Army sponsors Ryan Newman's No. 39 and the U.S. Air Force sponsors AJ Allmendinger's No. 43 ride. Bill Harper, McCollum’s Chief of Staff, “dismisses the effectiveness of those sponsorships on recruiting.” Harper: "I would challenge the Pentagon to give me one example of someone today in Iraq or Afghanistan who saw the Go Army car going around the race track and that's why they joined the Army." Harper indicated that “nothing in the amendment would prevent any military branch from recruiting at NASCAR events; it's just that Rep. McCollum does not see the benefit of spending millions to be on the cars.” Long notes current NASCAR sponsorship totals “are unavailable, but in 2009, the U.S. Army paid $11.6 million to sponsor Newman's car.” Although military branches “sponsor race teams on other circuits -- drag racing and IndyCar, for example -- the amendment is only directed at NASCAR.” Harper admitted that “there is a long way to go for this amendment to become a part of the law” (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 2/16). McCollum’s office said that the military “has spent more than $100 million over the past decade since it began sponsoring NASCAR.” Harper: “We don’t believe taxpayer dollars should be going to pay for race-car teams” (STARTRIBUNE.com, 2/15).
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