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U.S. Senate candidate Meek takes a ride on NASCAR


U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek is following in the footsteps of dozens of politicians, who have used NASCAR as a campaign tool.

On Saturday, Mike Wallace’s 01 Chevrolet will bear a logo reading “Kendrick Meek for U.S. Senate” during the NASCAR Nationwide Series 2010 opener, the Drive4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway.

Meek is far from the first pol to bank on NASCAR, but how lucky did he get? Danica Patrick, the first woman to win an Indy Car race, is making her much-anticipated NASCAR Nationwide Series debut in that race. So expect Meek’s name to get a boost in viewership from the Danica factor alone.

The campaign isn’t yet saying how much it’s spending for the one-race paint scheme – it will have to report it eventually – but where top tier teams can command $100,000 to $125,000, Meek might have paid $25,000 to $50,000 based on Wallace’s ranking. Read my colleague Anthony Man’s piece on Meek’s campaign tactic here.

The history of politicians teaming with NASCAR is lengthy. Among the highlights:

President Richard Nixon hosted Richard Petty at the White House in 1971 – marking the first time a racecar diver had been invited to Pennsylvania Avenue.

In 1976, Democratic presidential hopeful Jimmy Carter announced the start of the Southern 500.

As a candidate for president in 1992, Bill Clinton was booed at the Southern 500.

Virginia gubernatorial candidate Mark Warner put a “Warner for Governor” logo on a Ford F-150 in 2001.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger introduced the “Terminator 3” car at California Speedway in 2003.

In 2003, one Ford F-150 won its first Craftsman Truck Series race in 2003 carrying a “Bob Graham for President” logo on it.

Also in 2003, while driving a Winston Cup car at a charity event, then-North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley crashed into a retaining wall at 120 mph -- he was unhurt – and was re-elected in 2004.

And President Obama hosted NASCAR’s top 10 drivers on the White House lawn last August.

Categories: Auto Racing (42), Sponsorship (101)


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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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