The Frontstretch: Potts' Shots: Risk Versus Reward With Military Sponsorships by John Potts -- Thursday February 17, 2011

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Potts' Shots: Risk Versus Reward With Military Sponsorships

NASCAR Fan Q&A · John Potts · Thursday February 17, 2011


Now we’ve got a (supposedly) public servant wanting to do something about the military sponsoring race cars. Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota says the recruiting effort in the way of sponsorship deals with NASCAR race teams is a waste of money.

Could you imagine the kind of uproar within the Junior Nation if that team loses about $7 million because of it? Not to mention all the Tony Stewart / Ryan Newman fans about to take issue with Madame Congresswoman.

First, she didn’t say anything about NHRA, and I’m sure the U.S. Army is spending a ton of money on Don Schumacher racing. Is this because there’s an NHRA national event in Minnesota and no NASCAR major event? I doubt it. It’s probably because she’s only heard about NASCAR.

The military is looking for recruits from 17 years of age and up, and this demographic fits well with the people who are interested in racing of all kinds. I’m sure they’re also looking for people who are passionate about cars, and there’s no question that the average race fan is a pretty loyal American.

Not to mention that these sponsors provide a significant morale boost to the troops. The services report that they get tremendous response at their displays set up at races in both types of racing.

Imagine the impact of Cup Series teams losing sponsorship dollars from the U.S. military.

The U.S. Border Patrol, with a part-time sponsorship in the Nationwide Series, received something just under 200 applications at a single session during the course of their NASCAR program.

Just my opinion, enough with the political stuff.


On the the new Q&A portion of the column. Before starting, I’d like to ask that those asking questions at least give us a first name and a hometown. OK?

Question: John, my first question to you will be an easy one. How was your vacation? I hope the holidays treated you well. — Jacob

Answer: Jacob, the off-season was pleasant, but I was ready to get back to racing after a month. And the weather hasn’t been really bad here in southeastern Kentucky. The holidays were great.

Question: Another Web site pointed out that Ford is primed for its 600th win, and I was surprised to see that Ned Jarrett led the list of Ford winners with 43. Ned’s last race preceded my interest in NASCAR by four or five years, so I’m not clear on his stats other than the two championships. Did the majority of his wins come in 1965? It’s my understanding that only Fords won that year because Chrysler was out in protest over the Hemi. — Don

Answer: Well, a reader named Surfcaster answered that by pointing out Ned won 15 races in running 59 of 62 events in 1964, and 13 in running 54 of 55 in 1965, which was his second championship year. Ned’s other wins in the Blue Oval cars came in 1957, when he got two: 1960 (five) and 1963 (eight). He had a total of seven wins driving Chevrolets, one in 1961, when he got his first championship, and six in 1962. He retired in 1966 after starting 21 of 49 races.

As far as Ford winning ALL the races in 1965, that’s not quite true. Darel Dieringer won a qualifying race at Daytona in Bud Moore’s No. 15 1964 Mercury (I know, same car, different sheet metal and chrome). The Hemi ban was lifted (with a cut in cubic inches, I believe) sometime in July. Richard Petty also won four races in the No. 43 1965 Plymouth (Nashville, Asheville-Weaverville, Hickory, and Manassas.)

Question: Curtis Turner was one of my favorites. Always wondered about his entire career? — Ronnie in Waynesburg, Ky.

Answer: He was one of my favorites, too. I always enjoyed being around him when he ran with ARCA in the ’60s. Rather than focus on his reputation and his involvement trying to organize NASCAR drivers under the Teamsters Union (which got him barred for a few years), I thought I’d hit on some other facts. Turner got the only win in NASCAR for Nash, the Charlotte 150 in 1951. He was also the only driver to win 25 major NASCAR races in one season driving the same car in each race. In 1956, he won 22 driving the No. 26 Ford in the old Convertible Division, and three more (including the Southern 500), in the same car with a top welded on it. In one of those 1956 races, he became the only driver to win a major NASCAR race by what amounts to default. At Asheville-Weaverville, they red-flagged the event because there was only one car left running – Turner and the No. 26.

Whether that had to do with Curtis’ rough driving, I can’t say. In addition to his racing, Curtis was big in the lumber business. He made and lost at least one fortune. It was on a trip for that business, I understand, that he lost his life in an airplane crash near Punxsatawney, Pa. on October 4, 1970. Also killed in that crash was pro golfer Clarence King. Of course, probably the best Curtis Turner story involves him landing on a street in a Carolina town to make a quick stop at a package store. That incident was the basis, I believe, for a scene with Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise in one of the “Cannonball Run” movies.

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Thanks to everybody who sent in questions. Keep ‘em coming to

Send John Potts A Question

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Beyond the Cockpit: Alexis DeJoria On The 300 mph Women of the NHRA
A Swan’s Broken Wings Equal NASCAR’s Next Concern?
Thinkin’ Out Loud – The Off Week Season Review
Pace Laps: Swan Racing’s Future, Fast Females and Dropping Out
Sprint Cup Series Facilities Can Build Upon Fan Experience by Looking to Their Roots


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02/17/2011 05:52 AM

John, it is always a pleasure to read what your thoughts are.

As for your concern about the Congresswoman and the military, my father used to complain about it as well.
He said it was a terrible waste of tax dollars to sponsor race cars. For the record he is a huge race fan, and responsible for my love of fast cars going in circles as well.
I never understood his (or now her) attitude, and here is why:

First of all, most racing sponsorships are paid for out of advertising budgets, and I can’t believe that the military sponsorships are any different. Now you could strip the sponsorships off of the cars and have more commercials on TV, but one NA$CAR race with Jr. gets the National Guard more exposure than 100 hours of commercials could possibly provide. Furthermore, military recruiters are at the races, and are available to answer questions and draw people in. Through commercials those same people would have to go to their local recruiting station to ask the same questions. As we can see from enlistment rates, that isn’t happening so much anymore.

Second, let’s pretend that the various branches of the military spend $200 million annually to sponsor NA$CAR. Now, every thinking man on this site knows that is a ridiculous number and probably 5 (or more) times higher than the actual amount. But let’s pretend. Even if you believe every penny of that money is a waste of tax dollars, it would still rank somewhere around #25,000 on the list of ways that the U.S. government wastes money. Any claims to the contrary would be just a smoke and mirrors game of “let’s cut this, so they ignore that” budget concern.
Well, enough of my ranting diatribe. I’m glad your winter went well. Keep up the good work.

02/18/2011 10:37 PM

I am againsy military money sponsoring race cars. That money could better spent protecting our troops or given to the VA. The way our government and the VA treats our Vets is horrible and it’s because they do not have the money.