McCain loss a hit to motorsports

November 6, 2008
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mccainJohn McCain’s loss to Barack Obama in Tuesday’s presidential election is a loss not only for staunch Republicans and conservatives, it's also a loss for motorsports.

I know, there are more pressing presidential issues, like the failing national economy and Middle East wars, but this is, after all, a sports business blog set squarely in the middle of motorsports country. And a feature shown recently on national TV about McCain and his wife, Cindy, got me thinking what a McCain presidency might do for motorsports. Forget for a moment, that Obama’s tax plan might zap high-dollar race teams and generously-paid drivers. This is more about marketing and image.

The nation has long had a fascination with the president’s sporting passions and hobbies. No one will forget Bill Clinton’s love of jogging (or the saxophone for that matter). Everyone knows George W. Bush was a baseball fanatic. Who could forget him throwing out the first pitch at an MLB game shortly after 9/11. Past presidents’ love of hunting and fishing also have been well chronicled.

McCain and especially his wife Cindy are big racing fans. They’ve even dropped the green flag at several races. McCain’s son, Jack, too is a big racing fan. Cindy even used a trip to a race driving camp to help her recover from a near-fatal stroke in 2004.

During a feature on ESPN Tuesday night, Cindy McCain was shown with NASCAR President Mike Helton and in separate shots with members of the Indy Racing League’s Andretti Green Racing team members, including Danica Patrick. Sen. McCain is unable to drive race cars due to injuries suffered during the Vietnam War, but Cindy and Jack both own race cars. So passionate is Cindy McCain that she talked—only half jokingly—about building a race track at Camp David if her husband was elected. A sport simply can’t buy that kind of marketing exposure, and the IRL and NASCAR certainly would have looked to capitalize if McCain was elected.

But alas, it was not to be. Instead, Obama’s love of basketball will take center stage. Just this morning, former Duke University hoops player Reggie Love, Obama’s body man during the campaign, was featured on national talk shows. And Obama was shown in clips wearing No. 23 during his high school playing days. It won’t be the last time basketball gets pumped up by the soon-to-be president’s connection to the sport. Of course, that’s not all bad for Indiana either. After all, in every other state in the nation basketball is just a sport. But not Indiana. And with the Pacers, Big Ten tournaments and NCAA Final Fours here, there is plenty of economic impact that could be boosted.
  • The best thing for our Pacers would be to disappear for a year, fire the entire team, and then start from scratch with a morals clause as the first line item in the contract.

    I told a group of fellow business people about a call I got from the Pacers trying to sell tickets. To a person, they all laughed and said not only would they not buy season tickets, they would not even pay to send one client to a game this year.

    It's going to take a lot more than a win by B H Obama to reinvigorate the Pacers.
  • who cares about motor sports. i can't even believe i put sport on the end of that sentence. racing.....not a sport.... don't call it a sport, its a competition but not a sport. for the pacers... their not even in competition so i don't know what to call that waste of money.
  • Hey Doug:

    The most commonly referred definitions for sport are:

    1. an active diversion requiring physical exertion and competition
    2. the occupation of athletes who compete for pay

    Guess that qualifies auto racing. I understand you don't like it, but that doesn't mean it can be dismissed as a sport.

    Guess you'll be hangin' with the soccer moms, huh?
  • Educated Worker obviously has not taken note of the many positive changes the Pacers have made and are making.
    So much for Educated.
  • Educated Worker:

    Haven't been paying attention, huh? If you had you'd know that the Pacers have gotten rid of all the troublemakers (except for Tinsley, that is, and he's inactive). The players they have now are a fun, respectable bunch who deserve a chance to win you over.
  • What about Marqui Daniels? Is he going to be ok? I noticed he hasn't been featured in the Pacers getting to know the players PR campaign.
  • Nascar will do ok with or without McCain, they're big enough to weather a downturn and be well-positioned for a recovery when things get better.
    The earl will wander aimlessly in its self-imposed darkness regardless, as it is 169% pure garbage masquerading as motorsport. FTG's inheritance will carry it along, and it will stay mired in obscurity where it belongs. Not even Roger Penske getting elected President would save that rubbish. :lol:
  • Reputation is long earned and quickly shattered. While they have made numerous changes, they have not yet been under fire throughout a season to prove that things have changed, and that it will not be new names, same story.
  • Stan,

    Mr. Always Negative, loves to run down people that he’s envious of. Why, because they have something they are trying to make better, and he has nothing but sour grapes.
  • Frankly, I'd prefer a president who is above the white trash fan following of Nascar. As for open-wheel, can't really see how an executive branch interest would drive the fan base. I recall the Quayles at a 500 way back when during Dan's pathetic VP days. In their hot pink windbreakers, I was pretty sure they were only paraded around because the party faithful were hoping those jackets would serve as good targets for snipers.
  • I don't see how McCain's loss of the presidential election constitutes any sort of loss to motorsports. Prior to the election, John McCain was a U.S. Senator and apparently a racing fan. After the election, he's still a U.S. Senator and, more than likely, a racing fan. So where's the big loss?? Thursday must have been a slow day for you if this was the best hard-hitting sports business news you could dream up.
  • No senator is going to get a track built at Camp David. And, if you follow politics at all, you know the press corps that follows the U.S. president is much, much larger than the press corps that follows any one senator, and much much more international. There's no denying that motorsports having a friend in the White House is going to be a nice bonus. The same could be said for any sport. Lighten up Marsha.

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