Who Will the Loss of Army Sponsorship Hurt Most?
Photo by Jerry Edmundson / Flickr.com

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

By Zachary Lange
TheRacingExperts.Com Reporter

The war machine, driven by Ryan Newman, will no longer be covered in its signature stars and stripes after a press release by the U.S Army said its marketing budget will be reallocated and will not feature a presence in NASCAR.

"The U.S. Army has been a great partner of Stewart-Haas Racing since the team's inception,” said Brent Frood, Executive Vice President of Stewart-Haas Racing in a press release.

“It has been a mutually beneficial relationship, with the U.S. Army introducing training regimens that improved our pit crews while instilling the mental, physical and emotional strength of the U.S. Army Soldier in all of us. We remain very proud of our representation of the U.S. Army and its brave Soldiers who are 100 percent committed to our country,” Frood added.

The U.S Army has been with Newman and the Stewart-Haas Racing team since its inception in 2009, but after recent questioning from congressmen and women asking if the partnership is beneficial, the U.S Army decided to pull the plug on NASCAR sponsorship.

Despite this, the National Guard will still be aboard the 88 machine of Dale Earnhardt Jr. However, Rep. Betty McCollum from Minnesota who has been the main representative in discontinuing the branches of military service from sponsoring in NASCAR due to the recent economic climate, has recently met with National Guard officials to "to discuss their backing" of the 88 car driven by Earnhardt Jr.

“By ending its sponsorship of NASCAR, the Army made the right move to eliminate a wasteful program and protect taxpayer dollars – which has been my goal all along,” said Congresswoman McCollum in a press release, “Congress is facing a very difficult budget environment, and I want taxpayer dollars protected – even at the Pentagon. I applaud the Army’s decision to terminate its funding of NASCAR.”

The argument if this was the right move can certainly be made for both sides.

In an economic downturn like the one we are having, some question if this is a wise money spending decision. In the year of 2012 alone, the U.S Army has spent 16 million U.S Dollars for professional sports sponsorships, and while we may not know how much of that went towards Newman’s car, it’s is bound to be a pretty big chunk of the pie chart. 

Also, only a handful of recruits cited NASCAR sponsorship as there reason to enlist in the US Army.

Photo by The U.S. Army
The Army has sponsored various stars in the sport including Mark Martin 2007-2008 (pictured above).

However, I find this move slightly unfair to Newman and the Stewart-Haas team, because if the Army is terminating sponsorship with Newman, it should terminate all motorsports sponsorships.

That’s not the case.

The Army is currently in talks of a contract extension with drag racer and seven time NHRA champion Tony Schumacher through 2013.

The other side of the argument is while it didn’t make people enlist, it boosted the morale of the men and women overseas already fighting for our freedoms. And that each and every Sunday soldiers around the world looked forward to seeing the Army car on track.

Personally, my decision on this matter is spilt, while it could be seen as a waste of money, the morale of the troops in something that has to be taken into consideration.

However, there is one thing that absolutely needs to be addressed. Why are “higher up’s” of the U.S Army getting to decide where the marketing money goes? That decision should be solely up to the soldiers who break their backs, who put their bodies on the line, and who often have sleepless nights for the protection of everyday citizens like you and I.

Overall, people in suits in ties ultimately shouldn’t make the decisions when the middle class soldiers are who’s doing the work. And while the sponsorship may not make people enlist, it gives soldiers something that money can’t buy.