The NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) this spring will be called the NRA 500. It was reported by the Sports Business Journal yesterday that the track and the National Rifle Association had finalized a deal to sponsor the night race April 13 in Fort Worth. The event will be televised in prime time on FOX at 6:30 p.m. local time.
Said TMS president Eddie Gossage, “They saw it was obviously a very attractive sports marketing opportunity and seized it. That's what it's all about. It's about putting on one of the great sporting events in America. I know in Atlanta [Motor Speedway] last year they saluted a lot of the people that make America free. They are going to salute American freedoms and American families with this race. That's their plan so it seemed to be a good fit.”
Atlanta Motor Speedway is owned by Bruton Smith and his Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) as is Texas. SMI owns eight facilities that entertain national NASCAR events each year.
NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre stated enthusiastically, “NRA members and NASCAR fans love their country and everything that is good and right about America. We salute our flag, volunteer in our churches and communities, cherish our families and we love racing. On April 13, we'll all come together at Texas Motor Speedway.” The TMS facility holds nearly 200,000 fans.
Some believe this might have hurt NASCAR’s efforts to raise funds for the Sandy Hook program in Newtown, Connecticut. Gun control proposals have become a key national point of attention but gun rights advocates and groups like the NRA have been flourishing with record numbers of new members in response to Second Amendment rights. Gossage stated the NRA has contributed more than half-a-million dollars to TMS’s children charities (source: NPR).
One of the largest race team organizations in NASCAR is Richard Childress Racing and Childress is a member on the NRA’s Board of Directors.
It should be noted that the race winner at all Texas races puts on a cowboy hat and holds six-shooters in his hands during the winner circle celebrations.
This race had been sponsored by Samsung for several years but they ended their marketing partnership after last season. The sponsorship is likely to be in the $1 million range.