Endorsing Trump takes a step back for sport

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Donald Trump poses for pictures with drivers at Trump National Doral on November 17, 2014 in Doral, Florida.

By Zachary Lange
Staff Reporter
March 5, 2015

DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Just as the season has started, we already have NASCAR making major headlines, although it isn’t for the product on track.

Monday, at a Donald Trump rally in Valdosta, Georgia in front of 7,500 people with an estimated 12,000 people outside, NASCAR CEO Brian France as well as active and former drivers Ryan Newman, Chase and Bill Elliott, and David Ragan, pitched their support for the billionaire businessman.

Personal political views and personal endorsement of a candidate is one thing, but France’s endorsement of Trump isn’t personal. At the rally in Georgia, Trump stated, “Some of the NASCAR folks are here today because guess what? There endorsing Donald Trump, can you believe that?”

Trump spoke for the entire sanctioning body of NASCAR by saying he had their endorsement, and the CEO of the sport let it happen right in front of his face.

The timing of this endorsement from France and others is entirely too confusing, just six months ago NASCAR pulled their awards ceremonies from a Trump resort due to comments he had made.

But more importantly, the ideologies that CEO France on behalf of NASCAR has said about the sport don’t line up at all with Trump’s ideologies.

After the Charleston, S.C. shooting that had racial motives behind it, NASCAR made the move to ban all Confederate flags on property during the race weekend.

France in an interview with the New York Times commented, “I’ve always felt strongly that the Confederate flag and other symbols like that are not representative of NASCAR…It’s an offensive thing to an entire race of people.”

France then went on to give his support to the political candidate who also happens to be endorsed by Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.

The NASCAR Drive For Diversity campaign is something that in France’s eyes has, “yielded some real good results, with drivers like Darrell Wallace Jr. and Daniel Suárez.” France stated that the talent of these drivers is organic, but NASCAR as a whole needed to, “do things to promote and give opportunities.”

Photo by NASCAR ISC and Archives
1988 Sprint Cup champion Bill Elliott was one of the drivers who endorsed Trump Monday in Georgia.

France then went on to endorse a candidate who has called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and has kicked out African Americans from his rallies.

NASCAR Green is an initiative to foster a cleaner environment with renewable energy and comprehensive recycling. The past few years have featured a robust advertising campaign for this program, and NASCAR along with partner UPS has planted over 400,000 trees. Geoff's Journal: Politics and NASCAR

France stated in 2013 that NASCAR Green is “a compilation of palpable changes our sport has made to how we run our business year-round.” France then went on to endorse a candidate who thinks climate change is a “hoax” and has no plan announced for how to expand on clean energy.

Fact is, no matter how personal or private ones political endorsement is, as high ranking as Brian France is in NASCAR, it is going to reflect on the sport.

Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR
Donald Trump poses for a picture with NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers in December 2004 in Times Square.
France didn’t speak for all of NASCAR but Trump and his political team jumped all over the opportunity to announce the entire sanctioning body of NASCAR supports him.

In allowing that to happen, NASCAR has taken a major step back and is hypocritical in supporting the campaigns that Donald Trump would seek to destroy.