COMMENTARY: NASCAR needs NRA to create interest

Fort Worth Star-TelegramMarch 10, 2013 


Jimmie Johnson celebrates winning the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway last November.


— DANICA PATRICK, Jimmie Johnson or whoever wins the NASCAR race in Texas next month should be handed a gun that carries 150 rounds and can decapitate an elephant with a single shot.

If Texas Motor Speedway is going to embrace the NRA, then go all-in by handing the winner of the 2013 NRA 500 a gun that carries at least more than 10 rounds. Those little six-shooters the winner normally receives are far too PC for the victor of the NRA 500.

This week, TMS president and general manager Eddie Gossage made the long-understood relationship between NASCAR and the National Rifle Association a Kardashian marriage — the “NRA 500” will run on April 13.

Apparently, the “NRA 500” was a better choice than the “I Got Your Control Right Here Joe Biden 350.”

I don’t much care for guns, but I love the NRA 500.

This announcement is a business decision made by business people who recognize their fan base/membership. Eddie is a businessman who wants people to pay attention to his race, and pay for a ticket.

This type of open alliance is the type of affirmation and support the gun-loving NASCAR fan may want against the crazy, liberal, hippie media elite who make fun of them with snide comments stuck in their Marxist, anti-God, anti-gun rhetoric. This says, “We’re with you.”

NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre issued a statement that read, “NRA members and NASCAR fans love their country and everything that is good and right about America. We salute our flag, volunteer in our churches and communities, cherish our families and WE LOVE RACING!”

Whether the “NRA 500” is in good taste depends where you fall on the gun-rights spectrum. Both Eddie and the NRA know full well on which side of this debate their audience/membership falls.

Notice the NRA hasn’t tried to do any sponsorship deals with the NASCAR races in Fontana, Calif., or Watkins Glen, N.Y.

“Demographically, it’s a perfect fit,” Gossage said. “For us, it’s a sports marketing deal. It’s not a political platform.”

The announcement is easily the most attention Gossage’s race has received about a sponsorship agreement. Unless a track announces a “Text and Drive 250,” the “NRA 500” at TMS is going to be the most talked-about race title ever.

As NASCAR and its tracks deal with its saturated product in an overcrowded sports calendar, it needs to generate interest. Since sports fans are now numb to massive amounts of augmented cleavage, maybe professing love to a magazine that can carry more than 10 rounds is the way to go.

This move might not be a political statement from Gossage, but if the Huffington Post, ESPN, CNN, Fox News, Saturday Night Live, Politico, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Letterman, Leno and/or Kimmel want to take their shots, so be it.

When those outlets make their political commentary, it’s highly likely they will be say the words: “Texas. NASCAR. April 13.” The only thing missing will be, “Get your tickets now.”

In a post-Newtown world, the gun-control debate is as loud as it has been in generations, which means both the NRA and LaPierre are considered flammable. PR types might say this would be exactly the wrong time to form this alliance.

If you are Gosssage, all of this NRA heat makes it exactly the right time to join. Few are better equipped to deal with the headaches, the jokes and a few pesky potential protestors.

Who would have guessed that a sport with a direct lineage to moonshine runners would like guns?

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