The NASCAR drivers are turning left and right today on the road course in Sonoma, Calif. The sport's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is driving a car with National Guard decals.
But some of Junior's fans, as well as those who support other race teams, are worried about a report that Congress will again attempt to end military sponsorship of motorsports.
Specifically, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) is expected to introduce an amendment to next year's Pentagon appropriations bill that would reduce money going to advertising for motorsports, fishing, wrestling and ultimate-fighting events.
When McCollum introduced similar legislation in February, she received a death threat that her office deemed serious enough to turn over to law enforcement for investigation.
But that hasn't deterred McCollum, whose office said the Army spent $7 million dollars on NASCAR and $5 million sponsoring drag racing in 2011.
"Taxpayer-funded NASCAR race cars are an absurdity at a time when the Republican-Tea Party is cutting federal support for homeless veterans, law enforcement officers, and firefighters," Rep McCollum said in a statement when she announced her amendment earlier this year. "My Republican-Tea Party colleagues can support my amendment and stop wasting taxpayer dollars or they can vote to keep wasting the American people's money."
In fact, McCollum's office told The Daily Caller that it had received a number of supportive notes and thanks from members of the Tea Party looking to cut government waste.
Supporters of sports sponsorships, however, counter that the advertising is critical to recruiting new troops for the all-volunteer military services. And NASCAR fans are a big customer base.
Polls, inlcuding the Simmons National Consumer Survey in late 2010, regularly find that NASCAR fans are more likely to serve or have served in the armed forces as non-fans. Military members also are more likely to be NASCAR fans than folks who did not serve in the military.
How much difference will it make? The Department of Defense's 2012 budget request is $671 billion. Compared to that, the $7 million designated for sports sponsorships is nothing.
But when you add up a lot of little (and big) cuts, including the ones that I personally am not too fond of (public broadcasting and NASA), you're soon talking about, as the late Senator Everett Dirksen is quoted as saying, real money.
The argument also can be made that everyone, including wealthier taxpaeyrs who had a pretty good ride for the last decade, and every federal agency must make sacrifices to help get the country on a better financial footing.
McCollumn's earlier effort to ax Petagon spending on sporting events failed. We'll have to wait and see if the increased deficit and perhaps changed perspectives since then will produce a different result in the next vote.
Crazy Woman Driver's tough grades: I'm a fan of NASCAR. I was never in any service branch, but my dad was in the Navy.
So I guess I contribute somewhat to the pro-NASCAR miliary statistics.
Mainly, though, I just like watching drivers go fast. I write about that and other race-related topics each month for a couple of Randall-Reilly Publishing's trucking industry magazines.
My July Truckers News column is a midyear report card for the various motorsports series. Feel free to check out my wide range of grades (yes, they go from A to F) and let me know what you think.
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- How Uncle Sam spends our tax dollars
- Memorial Day remembering, planning
- Crazy Woman Driver takes a Sunday drive
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