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Fast Cars & Freedom*

I love markets. Markets generally tell us what people really want and how much they value something. For example, gun rights and fast cars.

For those of you who aren’t NASCAR fans, NRA has sponsored a race tonight, the NRA 500. As a politician opposed to freedom and fun, Chris Murphy (D-CT) stepped in and tried to use the pressure of his office to have NASCAR turn on NRA’s long planned sponsorship. That didn’t work, so Murphy turned on Fox to try and get them to yank it from the air. (Though NASCAR has pledged to review their sponsorship agreements after the race.)

Fox didn’t pull it, but fans are noticing that Fox announcers are going out of their way to avoid saying the name of the race tonight except where they are contractually obligated to do so. (I would embed the tweet on that topic here, but Cameron Gray of NRA News, who reported on the contract requirements, blocks us for some reason, so I cannot get the embed code.) I just can’t fathom how a network that really needs to attract viewers willing to spend money on sponsors and advertisers decides that it is in their best interest to piss off those people ready to spend money.

How do I know they are ready to spend money? Easy, the President of the Texas Motor Speedway tells us that the combined NRA & NASCAR fanbase is spending big, big bucks:


According to a statement by Gossage covered by ESPN earlier, objections to the NRA sponsorship are few and far between. Interestingly, they actually looked up those who complained and found that the vast majority of those few are not even customers.

“We’ve had fewer than a dozen responses,” Gossage said. “Of those, only two had purchased tickets [to other TMS events]. There is no controversy or big uproar or even a tiny uproar.”

But Fox is hardly the only shortsighted business involved in tonight’s race. The same ESPN article notes that the PR directors for two drivers ordered them not to grant any interviews in the media room so that they won’t have to be pictured with the letters NRA behind them. No doubt those same PR pros have probably squashed any efforts by the driver or their teams to use the #NRA500 hashtag tonight on Twitter – you know, the hashtag that’s trending nationwide right now. We wouldn’t want those drivers to turn up for any racing fans searching that hashtag, now would we?

If I was a driver, regardless on my views of guns, I would look at the merchandise sales and the social media opportunities lost, then I would promptly fire my PR person for not knowing a damn thing about my customer base. Numbers don’t lie, but PR directors apparently do when motivated by politics instead of the best business interests of their clients.

If Gossage is interested, this former Texas Motor Speedway customer appreciates the class the Speedway has shown in the face of a hostile media and an lawmaker who forgets we’re a free society. Granted, the last event I attended was a Rolling Stones concert in high school. But I am a proven customer nonetheless!

*Title shamelessly stolen from ExUrban Kevin

14 Responses to “Fast Cars & Freedom*”

  1. ExurbanKevin says:

    Shamelessly stolen by me from

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6H_PUR1GeM

    And on ESPN.com, they steadfastly refuse to mention who sponsored the race tonight.

    Cowards.

  2. Countertop says:

    Not cowards. Incompetent. PR folks, and broadcast sales folks all live in NY/LA. So they assume numbers are wrong and the cocktail circuit is true representation. But it isn’t. Numbers are rarely wrong. It’s almost always the clueless consultants.

    I see this a lot in DC.

    • Cam says:

      Amen, Countertop. It’s amazing how ingrained the Pauline Kael effect is these days. Even among the people producing media for “Middle ‘Merica”, there is seemingly little desire to truly understand the audience. It’s bizarre.

      • Zermoid says:

        You remember when it was “Cool” for celebrities to be seen shooting guns in real life, not just on the screen?

        What happened to that?

  3. jerry says:

    Great Rascal Flatts song.

  4. Ursa Ele says:

    My first thought was: “Is NASCAR even still in business?” But I am struck by the irony of this whole NASCAR — NRA thing: Guns ARE the new “NASCAR”. Nascar races were yesterday’s hobby. Yesterday’s pastime. Actually, not yesterday, but a few years ago! Nascar was big, sure, for a while and it was all great fun and widely popular. And, of course, like “O” gauge Lionel electric trains and stamp collecting it will always have a large, dedicated, money-spending core of fans. But most of America moved on and left Nascar in the dirt. I am not saying that they SHOULD have done that, and I’m not demeaning the value of Nascar or the goodness of its fans, or anything like that. I am just saying that if you look at their attendance numbers, look at their sponsorships (Dodge pulled out recently, among many others) and look at their TV and ad revenue numbers, the numbers show a declining interest in Nascar. But lo and behold, where have all those race fans gone? To the gun shops, gunbroker, and to the range. Guns are the new Nascar. The new big hobby. I remember when golf was real big, and of course lots of people still play golf, but not like they used to around the late 90′s and early 2000′s. Then Nascar was real big. Now it is guns. How long will it last? Well, for many of us it was always guns and always will be. But for the hoards at the gun ranges every Saturday and Sunday, who knows? A year? Few years? A decade? Who knows. But I’ve saying for the past few years that guns are the new Nascar. I remember back in the late 1980′s when the Grateful Dead was the in-thing. I had been a Deadhead since the 1970′s, so the huge inflows of eager new Heads was interesting and a bit annoying. It did not last. Petered out around 1994 and was already in decline before Jerry passed away in 1995. I’m still a Deadhead, and for the record, I also collect stamps and do Ham radio (another hobby that has seen flashes in the pan at times, only to fizzle out again after the kids find the new popular thing). And, I did “O” gauge Lionel trains, too. Eventually gave that up, sold all the trains, and bought more guns! Never was into Nascar, but had tons of friends who were. None of them follows Nascar anymore.

    • Zermoid says:

      Hehe, I was a member of the KISS Army in the 70′s, I know what you mean about seeing an influx, and then an outflux a few years later…..

    • jake says:

      come on Ursa, you’re entire post was difficult to stomach, but ‘guns are the new nascar’? that’s like saying “dvd’s are the new microwave”, or ‘the grateful dead was really talented’.
      and you’ve been saying that ‘for the past few years’! Really? Really?!? I think you may have been listening to the Grateful Dead for a few too many years. the capper was the whole ‘…the huge inflows of eager new Heads was interesting and a bit annoying’.
      I hate to post a hateful post, but GET OVER YOURSELF!

      • Ursa Ele says:

        I am guessing you think I am coming to incorrect conclusions about the trends of popular pastimes in our culture. OK, but I don’t get where you think my analysis went wrong. Just try to explain it again so I can see if I understand what you are trying to say.

        I guess the main points I was making are:
        1. Nascar was real big for a while, but it is not so popular anymore.
        2. A lot of the people newly into guns over the past few years are the former Nascar fans.
        3. A lot of those people will move on to the next big thing at some point, and no one can know for sure what or when that will be.
        4. Then I gave examples of other “big things” that were popular pastimes for a while before fading, even though they always did and always will have a loyal, dedicated, money-spending core of support.

        Not sure what was so egotistical or conceited or anything else about any of that. I guess one could try to say that Nascar never faded, but the data makes that claim untrue. One could say that the new gun people will be with us forever. Maybe. The ammo shortage certainly has not slowed down the number of people coming to my range, so maybe these folks are into guns come hell or high water, forever. Maybe not. I guess one could say that all I did was point out a cultural phenomenon that everyone sees as self-evident; that fads come and go. Well, OK, if that’s what you meant, I guess that is inherently true. If we limited blogs and comments to only things that are earth-shatteringly new comments that no one knew or thought before, there would not be much to talk about. But anyway, I don’t know what you REALLY meant, so try again. Thanks.

        • jake says:

          what a strangely wonderfully cogent answer to my post Ursa. the spirit of my post cannot be defended, and i apologize for the petulant tone. I guess I was channeling a deadhead or two that I’ve known that was (in my mind) marrying two disparate and unrelated things, unfairly attributing new entrants to gunculture 2.0 as stock car diaspora; weak minded and worthy of contempt.
          oddly, if I could contend some of the things you’ve said, I worry that it would sound defensive or reactionary. however, let me give it a shot:

          “Nascar was real big for a while, but it is not so popular anymore.”

          my response: well… nascar….was it really that big ever? and if so, has it really lost popularity ratings wise? maybe in 1-2 year trends. ratings were up 30% compared to last year for start of the season, but a year (or two?) ratings were down 30% (or a little more) from peak in 05. as the second most watched spectator sport in America, it’s hard to dance on its grave as a waning yawner like baseball (which will come back too). if i may go on a side tangent for a second, the reason that it hit the mainstream like it did was the pop of showing it on network television in a hyped way. it will always wane a little as (sometimes better) competitive motorsports vie for a piece of the motorsports pie (motogp, supercross, formula 1, grandma and le mans). the only sport to not wane at some point (and I mean of ALL sports, hobbies, activities) is the NFL (prediction valid for the next 25 years). just a prediction.

          ” 2. A lot of the people newly into guns over the past few years are the former Nascar fans.”

          says who? no one I know who is newly into guns (of the 10 i know maybe) are former nascar fans, nor even active nascar fans. I realize it seems dickish to call this to task and ask for data (as anyone could ask me the same), as it was just a post, but I still think it’s not likely.

          3. A lot of those people will move on to the next big thing at some point, and no one can know for sure what or when that will be.

          ” 4. Then I gave examples of other “big things” that were popular pastimes for a while before fading, even though they always did and always will have a loyal, dedicated, money-spending core of support.”

          this is your best point, and more nuanced than I understood of your original post, my bad Ursa.

          I truly don’t think of gun rights supporters as a flash in the pan (i realize that’s not what you’re saying, or not exactly), gun rights owners are really a true cadre of people among many more who simply own guns but are often passive of their own rights. if recent data is to be believed, gun ownership is down per capita. i like to think the people flooding your range are many of the new converts that people like you and me have been introducing to guns and what an enjoyable pastime they can be, in addition to providing personal security (and whole bunch of other stuff…. i’m getting distracted).
          anywho… take care ursa.

  5. Thirdpower says:

    A version of the Streisand Effect. Murphy created the controversy and is alerting more and more people to it causing more people (for hate or love) to watch it and check out the merchandise. I’ll bet it’s going to be one of the most viewed NASCAR events this year.

  6. RP says:

    While those of us on the RKBA side don’t care what the media says, it can’t help the NRA’s ability to reach out to potential new supporters when they’re constantly being demonized and blackballed by the idiot tube. That’s why its so important for individual gun owners to reach out to new people. Don’t preach politics or rant about libtards, just educate about guns. Trips to the range with newbies are great.

    And Murphy referring to the NRA’s “radical agenda” is sickening. Supporting the Constitution is radical?
    That asshole needs the tar and feathers treatment.

    • Zermoid says:

      One thing I don’t understand is why the NRA doesn’t sue the morons in the media for liable and slander for what they say about the NRA.
      Hit them where it hurts most, the wallet.

  7. Zermoid says:

    NRA and NASCAR have some common roots, freedom loving patriots who like freedom and enjoy guns.
    Remember where NASCAR came from, Moonshiners. People who can trace their lineage of freedom back to the revolutionary war, which was in no small part over the whiskey tax England wanted from the colonists, among others. Moonshining was born of people who detested govt control and taxation over their lives and livelihood, and many of those moonshiners defended themselves with guns.

    You might look at this as 2 branches of a common tree coming back together, and about time!
    All those who value their freedoms NEED to come together now to defend it.

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