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Earlier this month a debate raged on whether the American armed forces should sponsor NASCAR teams, one that had the potential to get ugly. But the House voted 241-148 to ditch the proposal, allowing the Army, Air Force, and National Guard to keep on racin’.
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced the proposal, as an amendment to the House’s 2011 spending bill, by questioning why $7 million was being spent “for a sticker on a NASCAR,” in the words of her chief of staff. She argued that the Army’s NASCAR team did nothing for military readiness, but Army spokesperson Col. Derik Crotts claims that the Army picked up 46,000 potential recruits through its sponsorship efforts in 2010.
The Army has maintained a presence in NASCAR since 2000, through direction from Congress itself. NASCAR, of course, is one of the most popular spectator sports in America, and if the Army wants to attract more people, then—stereotypes aside—there aren’t many better places than stock car racing.
[Sources: Wall Street Journal]
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) has been campaigning for the removal of the U.S. Army’s sponsorship of a NASCAR entrant in the Sprint Cup Series, a project that costs the Pentagon about $7 million dollars per year.
While McCollum has fielded irate calls from those who are angry about her proposal, the threat, delivered via fax, was the first of its kind.
For years, the Army has sponsored a NASCAR team as a means of getting the message out about the armed forces, and the career prospects it has to offer. At first glance, it seems like a perfect fit – with NASCAR’s supporters leaning heavily Republican, and supportive of the kind of values that often draws people to the armed forces.
Bill Harper, McCollum’s chief of staff, noted the irony of NASCAR fans, who he assumes to be Republican, and their complaints, when Republican supporters are calling for budget cuts to preserve America’s financial integrity. “We’ve heard innumerable times that the Republicans were elected to send a message from the people that we should stop spending money,” said Harper. “And yet the people who sent that message want us to spend $7 million for a sticker on a NASCAR.”
[Source: Talking Points Memo]