05/17/04 — Favoritism: Politicians discover the NASCAR voters

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Favoritism: Politicians discover the NASCAR voters

Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s Salisbury home is but a half-hour or so from the Lowe’s Motor Speedway, formerly Charlotte Motor Speedway, the granddaddy of North Carolina racetracks. She has undoubtedly been stuck in race-day traffic on occasion.

If so, she had but to turn her head to witness the incredible number of people who are willing to shell out from $30 to $130 for a ticket to a race. It’s hundreds of thousands. These are people who are intensely interested in the sport they love, and these are mostly people who can vote.

Mrs. Dole estimates that NASCAR, at the various tracks, feeds $1.5 billion a year into the state’s economy.

That, ostensibly, is the reason that abill in Congress would codify special tax treatment for companies that own NASCAR tracks. And, ostensibly, it is why the General Assembly is considering spending millions of tax dollars to build a test car-racing track and garages.

Ostensibly. But in reality, those millions of devoted NASCAR fans undoubtedly have something to do with it, too.

They represent something new in demographic jargon — NASCAR dads. That’s a chunk of voters that politicians don’t want to lose. Not only are NASCAR dads numerous but many are the sort of people who have strong feelings and are inclined to vote.

It will be interesting to see which members of Congress and the General Assembly muster the courage to vote against favoritism toward the sport that these people hold in reverence.

Which is, of course, what the politicians ought to do — vote against it.

There are many industries that, like racing, bring billions into the North Carolina economy, and picking and choosing which ones to favor would be pretty bad business.

What makes car racing different is all those fans. No office holder wants his opponent in the next election to label him as anti-NASCAR. To some voters, it would be like being against Americanism itself.

At both the state and national levels, the politicians seem to be trying to out-NASCAR one another. This doesn’t bode well for our tax coffers.

Published in Editorials on May 17, 2004 11:54 AM