Tag Archives: Auto Racing

NASCAR and Politics

Stephen at All Left Turns, working off the rather brilliant Car & Driver hoax, wonders …

For reasons I’ve never entirely understood and in contrast to most other professional sports, it’s acceptable and accepted practice to wear your political heart on your sleeve in NASCAR. Hell, it’s encouraged — as long as your sleeve is a Republican sleeve, that is. Why is that?

It’s an interesting question. Fans of NASCAR enjoy a political uniformity that eludes, well, every other major sport. In part, it’s the regionalism involved–stock-car racing is still very much a Dixie sport–and in part it’s the defiant, make-it-to-the-county-line origins that make NASCAR the natural bedfellow of the post-Southern Strategy Republican party. It’s also a predominantly white sport, and that goes for competitors, fans, and prevailing culture. No other American sport–not baseball, football, basketball–is as politically aligned as NASCAR, Considering the factors in play, that’s not especially surprising.

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I Almost Fell for It

Honestly, I was on the verge of writing a post about Obama’s decision to force U.S. automakers out of the NASCAR business when I remembered the significance of April 1. Kudos to Car and Driver for a well crafted hoax.

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The Political Fire Suit

Ever wondered what Obama’s and McCain’s tailored threads would look like if, in the manner of the NASCAR fire suit, they were festooned with sponsorship/contributor logos? Dig it.

I’m only half kidding when I say that making this thought experiment the law of the land would be a great step toward political transparency.

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Petty the Pol

Racing luminary Richard Petty is a Republican candidate for Secretary of State in North Carolina. He’s running against Democrat Elaine Marshall, who’s held the office since 1997. They’re tight in the polls.

Elsewhere, Russian tennis star Vera Zvonareva aspires to work for the U.N. one day, and hurdler Liu Xiang is now a member of a powerful Chinese parliamentary body.

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NASCAR and Gas Prices

Despite my Southern roots, I’m not much of a racin’ fan. However, I have been curious as to how the ongoing fuel crisis is affecting the sport. Now, thanks to a deeply informative article by Matt Markey of the Toledo Blade, I have some answers. Here’s a smattering of those answers:

  • Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series competitors receive fuel at no cost, courtesy of Sunoco*.
  • They use a higher octane fuel, which I knew. That higher octane fuel presently checks in at about $5.50 per gallon, which I didn’t know.
  • Sprint Cup drivers burn through about 135,000 gallons of the stuff per season.
  • Cup Series cars get no better than five or six miles to the gallon.

So … the arrangement between Sunoco and NASCAR. Does Sunoco have some sort of opt-out if the price-per-barrel of crude reaches a certain level? They took over as official supplier in 2004, when crude was going for less than $50 a barrel. It would be interesting to know whether they had the foresight to protect themselves against what’s going on right now. Since their agreement postdates the Iraq invasion, you would assume–what with their having industry experts on the payroll and all–that they would’ve anticipated some upheaval among OPEC member states. And maybe they did.

At some point, though, the cost of petrol must outweigh whatever promotional considerations they’re receiving (a firesuit patch of of one’s own, if you will). Is Sunoco nearing, at, or past that point?

(* Interesting aside: The Sierra Clubs rates Sunoco and BP as the most environmentally conscious U.S. oil companies.)

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