NASCAR Discussing Future Of Political Paint Schemes On Cars
NASCAR is in the early stages of discussing whether to ban political paint schemes, sources said, as the sport has been dealing with multiple controversies and become a cultural flashpoint in America. The sport has historically allowed paint schemes that represent various political candidates, groups and ideas, though it has been under the microscope recently more than ever. Fans on both sides of the political spectrum have become upset at some of the paint schemes the sport recently has allowed. Recent examples include NASCAR allowing both a Black Lives Matter paint scheme that upset some conservatives and allowing a Trump 2020 scheme that upset some liberals. The paint schemes are sold by teams and NASCAR merely approves them, but social media chatter in recent months has shown that many people blame the sanctioning body for allowing political paint schemes they do not like. It is not yet clear how much teams could push back on this, but they do rely on sponsorship for roughly 75% of their annual revenue. However, industry execs, including those from teams, are getting increasingly uneasy about how much the sport has been politicized, so there could be newfound acceptance of this topic. Sources say that NASCAR itself is also getting frustrated by the increasing polarization and controversies surrounding the sport, and it is now holding internal discussions about whether to ban political paint schemes in the future.
TIMING OF MOVE UNCLEAR: The talks are in the early stages, and what will be the ultimate outcome, and when such a move would be implemented if it was adopted, are all currently unclear. It also is unclear what NASCAR would define as political. This move likely would get major attention and show that the sport is taking active steps to try to be more politically neutral than ever before. NASCAR recently banned the Confederate flag and has been active in the country's social justice conversation in recent months, led in part by driver Bubba Wallace. President Trump also attended this year’s Daytona 500, but he criticized the sport this week for the flag ban, later saying in a TV interview that he believes it is a topic of freedom of speech. NASCAR had no comment.