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The Term “NASCAR” Has Multiple Meanings

By admin | January 3, 2013

This word can mean different things to different people.

By Richard Allen

During the debate over the recent tax break that was extended for race tracks by the so called “fiscal cliff” legislation, the use of the term “NASCAR” came into question. Since the term can have multiple meanings, there was some misunderstanding, and misinformation, as to who was being referred to when that term was used.

NASCAR, of course, is an acronym for the National Association for Stock Car Automobile Racing. That organization was founded in Daytona Beach, Florida in the late 1940s by Bill France, Sr. and others for the purpose of sanctioning stock car racing.

The debate about the use of the term “NASCAR” came when some pointed out that the organization still based in Daytona Beach was not actually receiving any benefits from the government when a tax break for motorsports facilities was extended as part of the last minute governmental legislation of January 1, 2013. While it is technically true that NASCAR itself was not receiving any tax breaks, the broader use of the term needed to be considered.

So, here are some of the ways the term “NASCAR” may be used.

First, “NASCAR” is a sanctioning body that governs the sport of stock car racing. This is, of course, the truest meaning of the acronym. But to limit the term to just this particular definition would serve to eliminate a great many uses of the word.

“NASCAR” can also be used to describe the sport itself. The term is often used to refer to a form of racing. How many times have you heard someone say, “I am a NASCAR fan.”? That likely doesn’t mean that person is a fan of the organization that runs the sport, but rather, the person is actually a fan of the form of racing refered to by the word.

The same could be said of someone who declares that he is an NFL fan. The person is referring to the sport, not the organization that runs it.

When some media outlets reported that NASCAR was receiving a tax break, the sanctioning body took exception to that and pointed out that it was actually the tracks used by NASCAR that were benefiting.

However, those tracks are a part of NASCAR. The term was being used to refer to the sport, not the actual sanctioning body. It would be the same if such a break had been given to each NFL team. The stories would have likely been headlined, “NFL Receives Tax Benefits From Fiscal Cliff Bill” or something to that effect. It would not be necessary to list the name of each team.

I have wanted to write a piece like this for a while because of the multiple meanings of the term “NASCAR” and the confusion that sometimes results. The debate over the “fiscal cliff” finally motivated me to do so.

When someone asks me if I am a “NASCAR” fan, I answer that I am. However, some have also gone on to ask how I can call myself a fan when I am so critical of NASCAR in my columns. This is where a distinction in the term must be made. I am a fan of the sport, its drivers, crew members, sponsors and team owners. However, I do not always agree with the organization that runs it. So, I am a NASCAR fan but I am not a fan of NASCAR…if that makes any sense at all.

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5 Responses to “The Term “NASCAR” Has Multiple Meanings”

  1. Tony Geinzer Says:
    January 3rd, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Rich, I am always a fan of NASCAR because unlike Stick and Ball Sports, the threat of lockout doesn’t exist and I feel strongly that more of an array of tracks needs to exist, like the Eldoras and the Knoxvilles and less of the Mile and a Halfs. The belief is NASCAR needs to be equally supportive of these teams having sponsors or sponsors new to Auto Racing or not been in Sports before.

  2. Michael in SoCal Says:
    January 3rd, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Tony - Right on! Time to burn down a number of the 1.5 - 2.0 mile snoozefest racetracks. I’ll volunteer my home track of Fontana to start things off!

  3. Russ Says:
    January 3rd, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Thats akin to “Google”. While they have different meanings they are inseperable. One cant exist without the other.

    Simply hiding behind words to avoid the negative fallout.

  4. Wayne T. Morgan Says:
    January 4th, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    I am not a fan of NA$CAR but a fan of NA$CAR Racing being that it involves racing “stock cars” to a point. And being that ARCA could be called “NA$CAR” type cars then i am a fan of that. But as a whole NA$CAR is not a favorite.

  5. jerseygirl Says:
    January 4th, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Nice points about the various distinction between the use of NASCAR.

    I’m usually a fan of the racing, the sanctioning org on the other hand needs to pull it’s head out of you know where.

    However, over the past few years, I’ve become less of a fan since the lackluster racing, the poor tv coverage and bad tracks and constant stupid rule changes have made me much more of a casual fan than I once was.

    But according to Brian France, everything is great, the fans love it all, blah, blah, blah. Then again, his organization just got a $70 million gift from the government, so I guess all is right in his world.