Thursday, March 01, 2007

Washington Politicos Trot Out Tired Stereotypes

Former NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champions Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip traveled to Washington State last week to lobby for state assistance in building a new track in Kitsap County. Unfortunately, their visit offered graphic evidence that some old, ugly stereotypes surrounding this sport are still alive and well.

Democratic Rep. Frank Chopp is the Speaker of the House in Washington State, and when questioned about Petty's visit, he asked reporters, “You mean the guy who got picked up for DUI? That guy?" Minutes later, Chopp began to backpedal in vintage politco fashion, saying, “I was told that, so I'm not sure. You better check to make sure it's accurate.”

Too late, Mister Speaker. Much too late.

As most NASCAR fans know, Richard Petty has never been “picked up" for driving drunk, or anything else that I know of. In fact, he is on record as refusing to take part in alcohol-related sponsorships or contingency programs, based on a promise he made to his late mother nearly a half century ago. His Petty Enterprises teams have forfeited hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years as a result, and Petty himself has long been a vocal opponent of alcohol abuse and drunken driving.

This the same Rep. Chopp who, at a press conference earlier this month, produced a Wall Street Journal article describing rowdy crowds at Talledega Superspeedway and said, “This is an example of the kind of contact I've had from (House members) about NASCAR.”

Sadly, Rep. Chopp is not alone in his bigotry. Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, was quoted calling International Speedway Corporation (and presumably, NASCAR fans in general), "… not the kind of people you would want living next door to you. They'd be the ones with the junky cars in the front yard and would try to slip around the law."

It’s enough to make you want to load up the cousin/wife and kids, drive the pickup over to Washington, and let grandma sink a tooth into their legs while you spit tabaccy juice on their $800 silk ties.

While Chopp and Seaquist’s comments are insulting at face value, the stigma behind them is much worse. They prove beyond all doubt that there are still members of American society who see NASCAR as a group of overall-wearing, dentally challenged High School dropouts, instead of the widely diverse palate of humanity we know the sport to be. I wonder if Rep. Chopp made similarly insulting comments when the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA all lobbied for new, publicly financed arenas for their Washington franchises in recent years. I wonder if the Speaker of the House chose to turn those simple, public-policy debates into a class war, slandering the reputations of those who disagreed with him politically. Did players and owners of the Seattle Mariners, Seahawks and Sonics face such unjustified personal attacks?

My guess is that they did not.

Happily, not everyone subscribes to the Chopp/Seaquist company line. Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, who sponsored the speedway funding bill, said of his colleagues’ comments, “I've heard a lot of that. Apparently, we have a new class of people that we can discriminate against."

The good people of Kitsap County and Washington State may one day get to weigh-in on whether they want to help fund a NASCAR superspeedway. Some will choose to support the measure, and some won’t. But hopefully, they’ll be allowed to make their decision based on facts, and not a series of tired, antiquated, insulting cliches.


  1. Anonymous6:28 PM

    Be sure to send him an e-mail and let him know how you feel...Remember to use your best english and grammar...We dont want to add any fuel to the fire :)

  2. Anonymous7:48 PM

    I'm insulted that an organization the size of ISC feels the need to seek public assistance to build a speedway.

    Good thing it wasn't Brian France & Scott Wimmer who came begging the good people of WA, Mr. Chopp’s comments would have gained a bit of validity.

  3. Anonymous8:23 PM

    I sent the silly man an e-mail.

  4. Anonymous9:19 PM

    Tell ISC to pay for it's own dang track! I can see getting some help from the government for zoning changes and stuff like that but the cost of the track should be coming from ISC's bank account. But the Speaker of the House owes Richard Petty an apology.

  5. Anonymous5:40 AM

    Strap that ignorant 'baby kisser' to the Needle. Cut off all interest in Washington. If he is representing the people of the state, we do not need to give them a dime of our 'redneck' money. We can all meet at Talladega in our beat up cars, with our cut off shorts, and drink a beer to 'Old Chopp'. You really showed class, Genius!!

  6. Anonymous5:56 AM

    Dear Mr. Chopp,
    I sincerley hope the residents of your state have more intelligence, than appearantly a portion of it's leaders. I could not be happier to be able to say that I am NOT form your state. My "redneck" prayers will be for you and your state, who appear to need them more than the people of New Orleans.

    Happier tomorrows,
    Chris in Louisiana

  7. Anonymous6:29 AM

    I dont think public funding of sports arenas is the "job" of government. However there is an argument to be made for how much money and tax revenue is created by having something (sports franchise, business, etc) in an area.

    Even if ISC has the funds to build a speedway (and they do) here is how you play the game. You pit Portland, OR (for example) and Seattle, WA (for example) against each other and you see which city (and state) will offer you the best deal. Even if you have the money to build it, you take advantage of "free money" from the government. Why build it with your money when you can build it with theirs? Municipalities (and states) compete with each other for business. This is how Wal-Mart does it (TIF zoning districts). This is how Honda, Toyota and Saturn all decided where to build automotive plants in America and on and on. Its about finding free money and tax breaks, even if you dont "need" them.

  8. the politicans that said that are jackasses ive been a nascar fan all my life and tomorrow when im done makind my moonshine and kissing my cousin im gona go to washindton and pee on their rose bushes (politicans are like racecar drivers the have sponsors to keep happy and the go around in circles all day) but when you get out of your car you can wash away the grime

  9. Anonymous9:21 PM

    No excuse for the ignorant comments by the 2 Wa. state legislators owes an apology to the fans and the other needs in invite Petty back to Washington for a new start....

    In addition, Washington isn't at all unlike Colorado btw, where Nascar is in their 8th year in attempting to locate a track there.

    Their agenda of tax relief and taxpayer funding hasn't worked there and they seem to not be getting the message....

    And Nascar's agenda didn't fly in New York either.... they need to pay their way and stop telling state governments how great they are..

    Washington legislators and the Governor may allow a track but its going to be on their terms and they won't be allowing ISC to tell them how its going to work...

    whats-his-name at ISC needs to Goggle the governors name and learn a little about her. As Attorny General she was in large part responsilbe for the nation-wide settlement with the tobacco industry....she not gonna let Nascar scam her even a little bit...

  10. Anonymous10:13 PM

    This is not about public funding... that is a different argument which I have many issues with. The issue here is how the elected officials, the "people's choice", yapped about things they have no clue about. Pretty scary.

    The Petty comment is unacceptable for a public figure. They should check the facts before spouting out.

    The other comments are even worse. In todays environment, typecasting people based on race, economic status, geographical locaction, whatever, is unacceptable.

    Not to get things riled up but, what if there was a million "redneck" march on Washington DC like the other "million" marches. It would get no interest like the others did.

    Hopefully the Washington State people will realize the people they elected are not as smart as they think. My thoughts on that are not about the proposed race track but their thought process to begin with. I guess that is an issue we all have, wherever you live.


  11. Anonymous11:57 AM

    what those two jerks in washington dont relize the petty family has done more to help the ordinary man than these two morons could dream up. we have a king. they are only elected fools.

  12. Anonymous12:21 PM

    The comments by these two elected officials just shows their ignorance. I've been following this issue for a while and have even seen comments from what is supposed to be "average" citizens being worried about "the intellectual pollution" that NASCAR fans would bring to Washington State. I also read a blog where the interviewed the "man on the street" and several of these people, from this supposedly enlightened and tolerant state seem to think that the average NASCAR fan is little more than some buck-toothed, slack-jawed yokel with a 2nd grade education living in a trailer park.

    If they don't want NASCAR there, fine by me. They can save their ignorance for something else like developing faulty software that has to be upgraded every 4 days and selling burned, over-priced coffee. Take the two race dates that were supposed to go there and give one to Rockingham and one to North Wilkesboro, places where they'd be appreciated and supported by race fans.

  13. Anonymous1:25 PM

    Isn't it amazing that these politicos will support NFL, NBA & Baseball with their players drugged, sterioded, with a rap sheet as long as their arms, and degrade a sport that will not tolerate ANY violation (check with Kurt Busch when he got thrown out during the Chase!) NASCAR is a clean sport, that's why I left all those others for much better role models! They don't even have a bunch of kids by women they aren't married to!

  14. Anonymous1:40 PM

    To Mr.Seaquist and Mr.Chopp,
    I am not from the state of Washington and I am glad,I am from the "Redneck state of North Carolina" where 90% of the race teams are.I am a huge Nascar fan and have been for 20 years.I do not have junk cars in my yard.If you don't want the revenue a race would bring your state Nascar needs to look elsewhere like Oregon.Richard Petty has never been picked up for a DUI.It sounds to me you need to do some research on Nascar before you make remarks about something you know nothing about.

  15. Anonymous3:53 PM

    Seems to me the comments are a pretty good indicator of just how badly washington wants a track. Sood. Maybe we can keep Darlington on the schedule a bit longer. If you have to do that much arm twisting to get a track built, maybe you should just try to sell out the ones you already have.

  16. Anonymous8:56 PM

    Well it's up to the local folks to decide if he is someone they want to re-elect..Like someone said " all politicians are crocked except the ones from my state "

    But it is up to us fans to somehow control stuff like tossing bud cans at cars on the track, I know several shows on that topic alone. That is probably the only news they ever get about NASCAR.

  17. Anonymous10:31 AM

    The ISC folks, Dave Moody and race fans in general need to realize that Washington State is run by the most biggoted class of politician found in the country today . . . smug, hard left liberals. All their grand talk of "tolerance" and "diversity" goes out the window quick when they encounter folks that don't think, act and talk like hemselves.

    Kitsap County, WA

  18. Anonymous10:53 PM

    It is a shame that Mr. Seaquist and Mr. Chopp did not pay attention when their mothers taught them the time honored and prudent rule of;
    "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all."
    Of course, they also say; "Absolute power corrupts, absolutely."
    It is unfortunate that part of that corruption is the lack of common courtesy and sense.

  19. Anonymous11:47 AM

    We in Kansas are so stupid that we helped Isc build a track here now we have more growth around that track and more money coming to that area we had to cut taxes. I guess we’re just stupid Framers out here sorry.