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Should NASCAR drivers attend White House event?

By admin | September 2, 2011

By Richard Allen


It seems as though a few NASCAR drivers have decided not to accept an invitation to visit President Barack Obama after he and his administration extended and invitation to them for September 7th. After the drivers’ announcements, a few people on Twitter and Facebook seemed to take exception to the perceived snubs of Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle.

The argument against the drivers who are refusing to join NASCAR Chairman Brian France for the White House visit by many was that even if these individuals don’t care for the politics of the person in the office, the office still ought to be respected.

My argument is that these people do not necessarily owe respect to an office that does not respect them enough to even consider the timing of the invitation.

Before anyone gets their political knickers in a knot, I am talking about both parties when it comes to using prominent citizens such as NASCAR drivers and other athletes as pawns. Presidents, governors, senators and all other office holders and seekers have suddenly become huge racing fans every fourth year on the political calendar. Surely, we are not so naïve to believe these office holders care about our sport when they make an appearance for a pre-race ceremony then leave before the halfway point of the event.

And just to show I am not picking solely on President Obama and the Democrats, one of the most disgusting things I have ever witnessed at a race track was when Republican Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist proclaimed before a Bristol race that he was, “A huge NASCAR fan” over the track’s PA system. I’ll guarantee he couldn’t have named five drivers in the field that night.

These people don’t like or pay attention to racing. They are simply trying to use the participants who have large followings to bolster their vote counts. Why should anyone be condemned for choosing not to play that game?

As far as the office of the president deserving respect, the last several occupants of that office have not respected their citizens as they have carried out such ridiculous spending habits that they have crippled the country’s future by entangling us in massive debt as well as engaging in numerous activities in which they themselves have embarrassed the office. So what respect does that really deserve?

As far as this particular invitation is concerned, why is it being extended at this time? It is supposedly to honor last year’s Chase for the Championship contenders. Really? Is the White House staff not aware that the 2010 playoff took place quite some time ago.

The Super Bowl winning team is not invited to the White House on the eve of the next season’s playoffs. The same is true of the NBA and Major League Baseball champions.

As a teacher of U.S. History, I offer lessons on the Office of the President as well as each individual who has occupied that office. I understand the importance of the position these leaders are in but I also explain to my students that almost everything that happens in that office is meant for political gain.

We all live as private citizens and if we do not want to be used as pawns by the Republicans and the Democrats we should not have to, and that includes race car drivers.

And even better, if it make Brian France look bad to have to explain why some of his drivers didn’t show up, then all the better.

BTW: As a post script, I would not be surprised to see that pressure applied by NASCAR and sponsors doesn’t cause some of these guys to change their minds. You know, to respect the Office of the Presidency.

Topics: Articles |

13 Responses to “Should NASCAR drivers attend White House event?”

  1. Russ Edwards Says:
    September 2nd, 2011 at 9:33 am

    France has to go, Nascar gets a “few” tax breaks as a result of thee campaign contributions they make, as do the teams.
    The drivers probably dont.

  2. Vince Says:
    September 2nd, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Rich, don’t know if you remember or not, but President Obama has done this before with the NASCAR drivers. I remember Nicole B. interviewing the President on the WH lawn a year or so ago.

    As most Presidents have done in the past. Recognize championship teams. Nothing new about this except for the fact that some drivers have apparently turned this in to a political protest of some sort. Shows a lack of respect for the office of the President and a lack of class by those drivers not attending.

  3. Richard Allen Says:
    September 2nd, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    As I expected, this is going to become Obama specific even though I wrote it as a pretty clear condemnation of both parties and all politicians.

    Since that’s the case, I believe this is nothing more than a shake and howdy opportunity for Brian France and not a recognition of the drivers. It is typically the champion who is recognized in these things, not every playoff team.

    Why wait so long to invite? NCAA champs UConn were invited the month after their win and did not come with every other tournament team.

  4. Charles Says:
    September 2nd, 2011 at 12:22 pm


    You mention that the unwise spending for all these years and should not get respect!

    Seems Nascar is a big benefit of our tax dollars that I dont support!

    Lets see Military Spending, National Gard, Army, and others at times, and furnish all the flyovers at the prerace activies, that cost money! The National Guard alone spends 22 million of taxpaper money to sponsor Jr and Hendrick Motorsports!Tony Stewarts teams get Army sponsorship, and he is not going? I think there are other and cheaper ways to recruit soldiers!

    Look at the Nascar Hall of Fame, funded with mostly public money, lost over 1 million in its first year, Nascar is going to charge a royality for a complex that honors the sport! Talk about greedy!

    Also the NC legislature passed alaw to reduce the aircraft fuel tax on large planes a few years ago that provide transportation of corporate jets that team owners use to jetsion from face to race!

    Top it off, Nascar was really helped by Tobacco Money, Iam talking RJ Reynolds= the Winston Cup, now they cannot adverstise in sports, and Richmond Raceway has gone one step farther and banned smoking in the main grandstand, but the title sponsor of Richmonds race is ‘the Crown Royal”, but you can get all the “24″ oz beers at the concessions!

    So it seems Nascar and the Government are two peas in a pod!

  5. mr clause Says:
    September 3rd, 2011 at 7:13 am

    Rich, you hit the nail on the head with this one. For those folks that insist this is a political statement by those not attending just maybe they should read this article and actually get the idea that this is all political by the White House. Why wait a year to recognize these drivers? Why try to set it up with two weeks notice a year later? I’m not sure there will be much pressure from the sponsors but you can bet that BZF is not a happy camper. Just look for more of NASCAR’s bullying to come on this deal. Plus more secret fines for anyone that speaks out about it.

  6. Josie Says:
    September 3rd, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Come on people…I thought this was a free country! If some drivers can’t attend or don’t want to…how is that our business? We (the fans..the public) feel we have the right to tell our “stars” how they should live their lives..what’s right what’s not…who, where, and what they should do and the press makes such a big stink. I personally don’t care one way or the other who stands on the White House lawn and shakes hands with the President. What I DO care about is a BETTER run country and a WINNING driver…and having the drivers at the White House is not going to accomplish either! So let it go folks and concentrate on something that really matters!

  7. mudbone Says:
    September 3rd, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Maybe Obama should have gone to a race for his belated “honoring” of the drivers.
    Perhaps the last racde Obama went to wasn`t so good for his re-election efforts.

  8. mary lou morgan Says:
    September 3rd, 2011 at 10:28 am

    The Green Bay Packers just recently went to the WH for their recognition as NFL Champions. The end of the footvall season is not that far off from the end of the NASCAR season. Do you have any idea what the logistics must be like at the White House to schedule all these things? Some suggest that they should have made sure this was convenient with all the drivers before they scheduled it. Can you imagine having to do that for dozens of events virtually every day and potentially hundreds of people? That’s not the way it things work in ANY White House. It is only to NASCAR’s benefit to receive this honor and recognition with dignity and class. Behaving in the way some are, including my beloved but disappointing Carl, only opens all of us up to further stereotyping as classless and ignorant. What has always set Americans apart has been our ability to transcend divisions for unity on such occasions.

  9. AMHarris Says:
    September 3rd, 2011 at 10:38 am

    One has to wonder how race teams can fly drivers back and forth across the continent to compete in Nationwide and Sprint Cup races on the same weekend but can’t get a driver to Washington in midweek (when they are in Richmond only 100 miles away the next day) to meet the leader of the free world.

  10. Sue Rarick Says:
    September 4th, 2011 at 5:24 am

    I knew there was a reason I liked reading your articles. I’m a huge history buff myself. But on to the subject.

    My daddy used to say, you respect the uniform, not the person in it. That said as a performer I find it interesting that I become much more popular to politicians during election years. And while you should respect the office, when your being used for political reasons respect becomes a two way street.

    I had a relative that in his heyday was considered a political power broker and I used to tell him that I had a bigger responsibility to my fans than any politician. And I personally decided that I would never go to any political affair because of respect to my fans.

    Sprint Cup drivers have fans of every persuassion and if they decide not to show up it may be more of respect to their fans also. And lets not forget we are a Republic. Our leaders are citizens not royalty.

  11. eric Says:
    September 4th, 2011 at 8:08 am

    @Vince - i see you’re making the rounds of the comment sections today with your “diserespect” mantra. On the contrary:
    We don’t worship our leaders in the country and are under no obligation to jump with asked to by the POTUS. Period.

  12. Bob Robbins Says:
    September 5th, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    I hope all of the democraps and recrooklicans and those that vote them in all rot in hell.

  13. Bob Robbins Says:
    September 5th, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    I also hope that those traitors GM and Chrysler rot with those S.O.B.s