July 11th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
12 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. Erika, KS

    Ha! Ha! Ha!
    There he goes again! Obama just can't stand the thought of not being loved and adored by all. He'll do and say whatever to get to the White House, including phony grandstanding at a NASCAR event! NASCAR! If he had half a brain he would have choose a more dignified and (challenging) racing event like Formula One. Loser!

    July 11, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  2. S. Boatman Warrensburg Mo.

    Obama Is Driving Laps Around Mccain!

    July 11, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  3. Tom in CA

    Vote Bob Barr!

    July 11, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  4. ladawn

    also, no one complained when bill clinton played his azz off on Arsino Hall show back when he was running for president....everyone loved it, no one called him arrogant or anything. thats was a form a marketing to see him on a persoanl level and to get the balck vote. so now that obama is trying to reach out to blue-collar workers, who mostly engage in NASCAR, and he lacks their vote, people have the audacity to call him arrogant???...give me a break. people are so ignorant its disgusting and contagious...

    July 11, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  5. Anita from Arizona

    Yuppers, a lot of negative comments for Obama from the McCain supporters. No positive comments to share about their own candidate. Maybe that's what's wrong with the GOP? Too many negatives to swim in? Maybe... I'll stay positive and optimistic for a change. It's like listening to the one who complains the most and thinking "Oh gees, where we go again???"

    July 11, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  6. RJ, CA

    Of course "novel" but "nothing new" - that's Obama! Geez, Barry, not ALL of us are fools, get it? If not, wait until November! In the meantime, we'll just vomit quietly as we have to watch you.

    July 11, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  7. Anita from Arizona

    Interesting reading CHARLOTTE's comment. So how do the people you're referring to research the candidates and vote wisely if they don't watch the news or search the internet or read the paper? Just curious how you can do something as important as voting with any knowledge of your candidate. MMMM???

    July 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  8. Angi's mom

    Obama can drive his NASCAR car into Invesco Stadium to give his acceptance speech. Now, that would be smooth.

    July 11, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  9. 2012

    Pandering for the redneck vote now, are we, Barry? LMAO!!

    For the first time in my adult life, I'm really PROUD of Jesse Jackson.

    July 11, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  10. Uwe Maletz

    why would a politician ( and for that matter – anyone with active braincells) at times were gas is USD 4 per gallon promote/ support something as outdated as car racing ? ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND ?

    July 11, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  11. Danny

    Barack does not know what to do. He is desperate. he wants to put his hand everywhere and CNN is his mouthpiece to publicise it. Barack it is better for you to shut up and stay in Chicago. You are a total joke.

    July 11, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  12. A Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    I'll believe this when I see it. If it doesn't happen would you agree that Obama lies.

    I just don't trust him and his wife, a real piece of work.

    McCain may be old but he will protect our values. He will put moderates on the court and not some flaming liberals that want to take our guns.

    I am not sure what religion obama is, but he turned his back on his Christian Church for political purposes after twenty years. What a back stabber; You see what stuff he is made of.

    July 11, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  13. JUST SAY NO!!!

    Lisa ..... I'm sorry Obama supporter from Fl, it's just so sad that we're stuck with McBama & McBush. Please help me, is there anything I can do besides write Hillary's name on the ballot?
    Lisa please Stay HOME!!!!!

    July 11, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  14. Laura

    What a waste of fuel.

    July 11, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  15. Tom in Atlanta

    Driver's have contracts with sponsors. No sponsor is going to say, "We paid X-millions of dollars for our name on this car, but what the heck, its for our Celebrity of the Year, Mr. Barack Obama, so let's just take our name off the car for one race."

    Plus, it's in Pennsylvania. The fans will be to busy with their "guns and religion" (quoting the Presidential runner up, Mr. Obama) to vote for him.

    Finally, come on... everyone who believes Obama is a centerist who brings both sides together, just look at the voting record!!!! There is not one democrat with a more extreme leftist view. But I understand what you think, "he looks so good and it seems as if when he talks, he's talking to me. Barak understands me! And it's about making history this year, anyways, not the issues...." I don't like Bush at all, but Obama will definitely sink our ship.

    July 11, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
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