Sen. Chris Murphy wants NASCAR to pass on NRA’s race sponsorship.
In a letter sent Thursday to NASCAR CEO Brian France, Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, asks the stock car racing association to drop the NRA’s sponsorship of an April race at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race, in NASCAR’s top flight, will be the NRA 500.
"By giving the NRA sponsorship of a major NASCAR race, NASCAR has crossed a line – you have decided to put yourself in the middle of a political debate, and you have taken a side that stands in opposition to the wishes of so many Newtown families who support common sense gun reform,” Murphy wrote. “Whether or not this was your intention, your fans will infer from this sponsorship that NASCAR and the NRA are allies in the current legislative debate over gun violence. By announcing this new partnership at the very height of Congress’s deliberations over gun reform, NASCAR has inserted itself into a political debate that has nothing to with the business of NASCAR.”
Murphy, who represented Newtown, the site of the massacre of 20 children, in the House before moving up to the Senate. He has been outspoken in his desire for tougher gun control laws, including universal background checks and an assault weapons ban.
NASCAR referred questions to the Texas Motor Speedway, which actually signed the sponsorship deal with the NRA. A spokesman for the speedway declined to comment.
”It’s not about politics. It’s about sports marketing,” the racetrack’s president, Eddie Gossage, told the AP on Monday.
The NRA and the racetrack seem to be an easy match. Traditionally, the winner of the race fires off a six-shooter in victory lane, and the driver who wins the pole gets a rifle.
The NRA sponsored a lower-profile NASCAR race last year, and NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre was enthusiastic about this sponsorship in a press release.
“The NRA 500 is the latest announcement in the long history of a growing partnership between the NRA, Speedway Motorsports and the NASCAR community,” LaPierre said in a statement. “NRA members and NASCAR fans love their country and everything that is good and right about America. We salute our flag … volunteer in our churches and communities … cherish our families … and WE LOVE RACING! On April 13, we’ll all come together at Texas Motor Speedway.”