July 11th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
6 years ago

Analysis: NASCAR and politics, novel but not new

 CNN's Mark Preston at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Obama and McCain are vying for the support of the tens of millions of race car enthusiasts – fans that would fill the stands of venues such as the hallowed grounds at Indy. Credit: CNN’s Alec Miran.
CNN's Mark Preston at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Obama and McCain are vying for the support of the tens of millions of race car enthusiasts – fans that would fill the stands of venues such as the hallowed grounds at Indy. Credit: CNN’s Alec Miran.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The political and sporting worlds collided Friday afternoon when CNN's sister publication, Sports Illustrated, reported that Barack Obama is considering sponsoring a car in a NASCAR race next month.

Oh, but not any NASCAR event. Obama's name could whiz by at speeds of 150 to 200 mph before 100,000 or more fans at Pocono Raceway in the electoral rich state of Pennsylvania (21 votes). You might remember that Obama lost Pennsylvania to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, a defeat that was seen as another example of his problem with attracting support from so-called blue-collar, white voters.

Obama has vowed to run a 50-state campaign with a specific emphasis on states such as Georgia, North Carolina, and Indiana. It is fair to say that these three states have a healthy share of white, blue-collar NASCAR and Indy Racing fans.

Should Obama decide to sponsor a car, it would certainly be a novel idea but not a new one. Political junkies will remember that Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham plastered his name across the side of a truck in 2003 that ran in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Graham was successful in his efforts to gain attention, but failed in his bid for the White House.

But isn't exposure what this is all about? If Obama decides to do it, he will get great media attention for entering the world of NASCAR, and not just from the pack of political journalists following the race – that is, the race for the White House. But also from sports reporters and commentators, who cover the race – that is auto racing. Not a bad way to reach out to voters who may not be following the campaign on a daily basis.

Last year, the Conservative Party of Canada sponsored a car in the Canadian Tire NASCAR Series. At the time, Jim Flaherty, a Conservative Party member of Parliament, acknowledged that emblazoning his party's political logo across the hood of a race car was a way to reach out to voters.

"The Conservative Party supports Canadians that work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules and those are the same Canadians that watch sports like NASCAR," Flaherty said.

I suspect that Obama's campaign is thinking the same thing.

Oh, and by the way, Obama won't be the only name racing in race fans' minds. John McCain's presidential campaign is sending his wife Cindy to Tennessee this weekend for the Firestone 200 IndyCar Race at the Nashville Superspeedway.

We haven't heard much about NASCAR dads this election cycle. I suspect that is about to change.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. What!!!

    I guess that is cool if you are into racing. With the current price of gas, I bet the need all the help they can get. Way to go Barak! This will appeal to the blue collar americans.

    July 11, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  2. Hillbilly for Obama

    NASCAR is stupid.

    Obama will only loose points with me by supporting this wasteful, consumptive and foreign oil demanding sport.

    Lame stunt Barack.

    July 11, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  3. Obama Supporter from FL

    That's pretty funny – I can't wait to hear what all the anti-Obama whiners [Yes, I saw your responses to the initial ticker article about Obama considering sponsoring a car] have to say now that Cindy McCain is being shipped to Nashville Superspeedway as a McCain promotional event.

    July 11, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  4. whiner

    president obama cares about all americans.even nascars people.mccain likes tanks better than race cars.

    July 11, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. Ethan-Denver

    Does anyone else agree that this is just too much? Or is it just me?
    I live in Denver, Colorado. It is one thing to run for the Presidency but it is another thing to believe that your name should be splashed across every aspect of everyone's life. I need some privacy from Obama

    July 11, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  6. America for Obama!

    Oh, Mac is sending the beer queen and her money. But I should stop whining and just work on my mental recession! Got it.

    July 11, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  7. MD FOR OBAMA

    Way to think outside the box. I am sooo looking forward to the next 8 years. I will party like its 2009 as soon as we string GWB up by his cahoonas!

    July 11, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  8. WINNER TAKE ALL!!!

    CNN-John McCain's presidential campaign is sending his wife Cindy to Tennessee this weekend for the Firestone 200 IndyCar Race at the Nashville Superspeedway........SHE took THE OLD GOAT from CAROLYN ......maybe she will get luck again....HUH!

    July 11, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  9. Dem

    This is what he is spending his campaign money on??
    What... someone forget to write a speech for him?
    Yea' change we can believe in. Pffffft.

    July 11, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. Empty suit, empty promises

    Please, please attend, oh, chosen one just so you can get booed for acting like a phony by being at an event you don't even want to be at.

    After he is booed, the media will cover that up and say it was a wonderful attempt by him at reaching out and many were cheering "the savior loudly", just like they did with Bill Clinton incredibly saying that hero John McCain isn't fit to be President because as a POW he may snap at any minute or when Obambi's campaign would not allow two Muslim women in a photo-op.

    Just imagine if Jerry Falwell said what Jackson said, it would be a story for weeks about how hateful whites, the religious right and somehow Fox news is.

    Biased media, start your engines.

    July 11, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  11. MDB

    Actually he promised to run a 58 state campaign. I'm not thinking it's going to happen anyway, who would they get to drive the car. That is unless you Obama fans think the Messiah could do that as well.

    July 11, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  12. JIM...TX

    So Obama thinking outside the box is bad??? This country has been CRIPPLED by the same old political mindset that got us in the fix we're in now....tetering on becoming another 3rd world country. It's way past time we have a PROGRESSIVE minded person running things, and Obama is him!

    July 11, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  13. cricket

    What a great idea. Obama is on the fast track to winning this race all the way to the White House. I love it.

    July 11, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  14. Kristie L., TX

    My husband and I watch the race every week. So do my family up in the mid-west. I think this is a great idea. If Troy Aikman can own a race team, Senator Obama should certainly be able to sponser one. I would suggest Jeff Gordon or Dale Jr.

    July 11, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  15. Dave in Naperville

    Environmental impact?

    negligible compared to McCain's environmental impact if elected president.

    obama 08

    July 11, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  16. Liz from Atlanta, GA

    I think this is brilliant! I was one of the millions of people who donated to his campaign and I think this is such a creative way to get his message out. Plus he gets it out to a demographic that he needs to reach. Great Job Obama I couldn't be more proud!

    Obama '08 The Revolution is coming. . . .

    July 11, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  17. Dan

    The best way to save energy!!

    July 11, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  18. MDB

    Any bets on the fact that Obama does not even know thwt the 49 has to qualify on time and is not guaranteed a spot in the race??? The Bam car is ranked 41st out of 43 cars. Way to go Obama if you were going to pick the loser in the crowd, you found it. MORON!!!

    July 11, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  19. Charlotte

    NASCAR should reach the mentally challenged. I have never understood watching cars go 'round and 'round in a circle. (not to mention the noise pollution) I guess they are hoping for an accident to add excitement to this very dull sport. I realize a lot of people like this sport, but it still amazes me. In a year that should have been a run away victory for the Democrats. How dismal for Obama. A lot of people do not watch CNN, or any major news for that matter. A majority of people do not blog. They will vote in November, and if Obama thinks he will win by a landslide, he is sorely mistaken. I hope everybody remembers how Gore and Kerry lost. It had more to do with their choices for VP, then you might think. It may be a do nothing position, but it is a hairs breath away from the Presidency. After Cheney, it may very well be the most important decision these two will make. Gore was ahead early on by about the same margin as Obama is now. People talk about Hillary being old Washington and in the same breath suggest Dodd as a VP? Obama is not Gods Gift to us, he is a typical politician. I will write Hillary Clinton on my ballot in November. I hope anyone who is thinking of staying home, will show up and write her name on their ballot. ( if allowed by their state.) At least show up and vote your conscience! Show the DNC your displeasure at their decision. Voting is a freedom we cannot afford to lose. We fought for it, we deserve the right to vote however we choose. DO NOT STAY HOME on election day.

    July 11, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  20. Bukky

    THIS POINT OF THIS IS NOT GET INTO THE NEWS ALL OVER THE NASCAR WATCHING SOUTH. PEOPLE WILL SEE HIS NAME. NEWS STATIONS IN THE MOST HICK OF PLACES WILL CARRY THE STORY. THIS IS A BRILLIANT MARKETING STRATEGY.

    SOME GUY SOMEWHERE WILL SAY... WHO THE -- IS OBAMA?

    July 11, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  21. MDB

    Kristie from TX another lib trying to wow us with your racing statistics. If you did in fact watch every week you would know that Gordon and Earnhardt have their own cars and teams to compete for. You don't get to pick and choose your car from week to week because you want to. You however are the perfect supporter for Barack Obama, pretend you know all about a subject when in fact you don't know diddly. It's like you two twins were seperated at birth.

    July 11, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  22. Griff

    Not my Novel. That's for sure.... Green, is the Scene.. What with wasting fuel, in Air Flights, and Sports... Cost!!! Is not Green...

    July 11, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  23. Mary May King

    This event fits Obama. Left...left...left...left...left...left..left.

    July 11, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  24. Don R

    There are rumors that Obama will make an appearance at a Philly and Steeler game. :-))

    July 11, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  25. Donkey Party

    CHARLOTTE -

    Please keep your cut-and-paste crotchety old c-word rantings to yourself, nobody wants to hear anymore of your retardedness.

    July 11, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
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