While NASCAR chairman Brian France said sponsorship from the National Rifle Association at last Saturday night’s race at Texas Motor Speedway followed the rules and guidelines for his organization, the sport said it would take closer looks at future sponsors.
NASCAR has a longstanding policy to accept sponsorship dollars from beer companies. In 2005 the sport expanded its sponsorship guidelines to include distilled liquors such as whiskey.
And for 23 years the title sponsor to the NASCAR’s highest level was R.J. Reynolds Tobacco’s Winston brand.
But after recent mass shootings, some believed the NRA’s sponsorship at the North Texas track went over the line.
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) wrote a letter to News Corp., the parent of Fox Sports, asking it not to televise last Saturday’s race. Fox’s broadcast went on as scheduled.
The sponsorship, however, created a lot of anxiety in the garage area. Several drivers were told not to do interviews with the NRA logo in the background to make sure they didn’t offend anyone.
HEIGHTENED SECURITY: The bombing attack during Monday’s Boston Marathon will result in security delays this weekend at
“We’ve had several meetings with our local contact with the Kansas police department which interphases with Homeland Security and the FBI,” track president Pat Warren said. “We won’t discuss publicly the things we do because we don’t want somebody who might do something bad to know what our plans, policies and procedures are.”
Warren said all bags, coolers and purses will be checked at the gates.
VIEWERSHIP DOWN: Television ratings were off by five percent for Saturday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway compared to last year.
The NRA 500 drew a 3.5 rating, down from last year’s mark of 3.7.
It still, however, made it the second-biggest television audience to coverage of the Masters Tournament for the weekend.