Tuesday, March 01, 2016

COMMENTARY: Brian France Knows He Speaks Only For Himself

NASCAR Nation launched itself into a downright tizzy today, after NASCAR Chairman Brian France and four of the sport’s most popular drivers endorsed Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally in Valdosta, Ga., Monday.

Accompanied by Sprint Cup Series drivers Ryan Newman, David Ragan and Chase Elliott, along with NASCAR Hall Of Famer Bill Elliott, France expressed support for the Republican frontrunner, saying Trump “wins with his family. Any of his children, you’d be proud of have them as part of your family. That’s how I judge a winner, how somebody manages their family and raises their family.”

Bill Elliott told the capacity crowd, “what (Trump) can do for our country, I’m all for it. We need a change, guys. That’s all there is to it. And I think this is the man for the job.”

Chase Elliott called Trump “a great man,” adding, “I think he’s a guy who can do some great things for us.”

Trump welcomed those endorsements, saying, “If the people that like and watch NASCAR vote for Donald Trump, they can cancel the election right now. Nobody else can win. Nobody.”

The Trump campaign quickly – and incorrectly -- characterized France’s words as an endorsement of their candidate by NASCAR itself. It’s not the first time a politician has spun the truth to suit his or her needs, and it almost certainly won’t be the last.

Brian France is a Trump Man.
Unfortunately, lots of people took that particular ball and ran with it, despite a hasty clarification by NASCAR Vice President David Higdon, who called France’s endorsement a "private personal decision by Brian."

Politics have always been shaky ground for public discourse. Emotions run high during any political campaign, particularly one conducted in pursuit of the highest office in the land. A 2015 campaign season riddled with name-calling, invective, character assassination and half-truths has done little to raise the bar.

Personally, I could care less who Brian France – or anyone else – supports in the upcoming presidential election. I am far more likely to vote for a candidate based on his/her actual record than a public endorsement; whether it be from a newspaper publisher, television pundit, Hollywood actor or sports figure.

My sainted mother will testify to my lifelong aversion to being told what to do. I am perfectly capable of making my own decisions, without any input at all from Arnold Schwarzenegger or Michael Moore. With that said, however, there are a few undeniable facts that should be stated, as concerns Monday’s endorsements.

First, Monday's endorsement was not the first time a member of the France family has come out -- loud and proud -- in favor of a conservative Republican candidate. Ronald Reagan didn't show up at Daytona International Speedway for Richard Petty's 200th win on a whim, you know. He was invited by Brian France's father, Bill Jr.
With decades of past history as a guide, it should be no surprise to see Brian France endorse Donald Trump. 

Bill Elliott is also on board.
Second, and more importantly, France, Newman, Ragan and the Elliotts have every right to endorse any political candidate they choose. They can do so privately – with an anonymous vote on Election Day – or publically, as France and company chose to do on Monday. They are guaranteed that right as American citizens, as are we all.

Used to be, people were admired for their political activism, and for caring enough to take a stand. These days, however, politics have been overrun by hate mongers, Negative Nellies and mudslingers, to the point where taking a stand – for any candidate, regardless of party – no longer seems like the civilized thing to do.

Most of us don’t even bother to vote anymore, preferring instead to wait for things to go wrong in Washington, as they always do, then complain.

Brian France did not speak for NASCAR Nation Monday, he spoke only for himself. As CEO of the sanctioning body, he understands that NASCAR is a diverse community, comprised of all sorts of individuals. We are Republicans and Democrats, conservative and liberal, male and female, rich and poor. We are white, black, yellow and brown; gay and straight with a wide array of strong opinions on virtually every topic. We speak with a million voices and no one – most certainly Brian France – is arrogant enough to believe they can speak on all our behalves.

NASCAR is millions, Brian France is one. And I think he knows that.

NASCAR drivers spend half their lives festooned with sponsor logos. And yet, at last night’s rally, you saw not a single corporate or NASCAR logo; other than Trump’s omnipresent campaign signage. That’s a pretty clear indicator that France and company knew who they were representing. Not their sanctioning body, not their sponsors, their teams or their fans.

They represented only themselves, which is exactly as it should be.

Like any candidate, I’m sure Donald Trump would love to have every NASCAR fan’s vote. That’s unlikely, of course, due to the sport's aforementioned political diversity. Some fans may be influenced in Trump’s direction by the recent words of NASCAR’s CEO, or its 16-time Most Popular Driver. Others may be pushed in exactly the opposite direction, which is also fine.
No matter how you feel about Brian France's personal politics, you should support his right to speak.
I have no idea who I will vote for on Election Day. Count me among the vast "Undecided Party," still searching for a candidate who doesn't make my skin crawl at least 50% of the time. When the time comes to cast my vote, it likely will not be for Donald Trump. But I support the right of Brian France -- and anyone else for that matter -- to vote their conscience, just as I will eventually vote mine.
You should, too.


  1. There are reasons not to vote for Donald Trump - but when one goes where the facts go there are also reasons TO vote for him. So Brian France et al's comments are not particularly outrageous.

  2. The inability to separate Brian France's personal decisions from NASCAR is where so much of the angst seems to be coming from. I can't count how many tweets I caught demanding that he retract or "I will boycott NASCAR and all the sponsors."

    I find irony in these people claiming Trump's about hate, and then spewing exactly that in response to France endorsing Trump.

  3. Everything Brian has ever done has been all about Brian's wishes. What Brian doesn't seem to understand, is that by being the CEO of NASCAR, he has a responsiblity to be wise and prudent in his words and decisions. This was ill advised, and in poor taste. Who is Brian France to anyone? What has he done to EARN the respect that would make his endorsement sway anyone? All I see is 12 straight years of continuously worsening ratings and attendance (that is a statistical FACT...) and a sport that is a shell of what it once was. The man is no leader, and his endorsement is embarrassing. It truly showed a lack of care for the fans, especially the millennials that he covets adding to the fanbase.

  4. Anonymous4:03 PM

    If Brian was speaking solely for himself, why was his occupation even brought up? If I, a lowly office worker, go to my candidate's rally and speak in support, do you think I would be introduced by who I work for? And expected to bring everyone else I work with too?

  5. Anonymous4:13 PM

    A friend who owns a drug store is proud to put signs all over his store proclaiming that his college football team is the greatest and he has often put political signs in his window. I asked him once why he would take a chance on alienating a large potential pool of customers who don't agree with him and might just choose to show it with their collective wallets. I see a parallel.

  6. Anonymous4:40 PM

    "Anonymous4:03 PM
    If Brian was speaking solely for himself, why was his occupation even brought up? If I, a lowly office worker, go to my candidate's rally and speak in support, do you think I would be introduced by who I work for? And expected to bring everyone else I work with too?"

    I mean, that kinda happened with "Joe the Plumber," didn't it? Usually people are introduced by name, age, where they are from, and often those are accompanied by job or job title as well.

  7. Well, that explains the 20 minute clock in Truck.

  8. Anonymous5:20 PM

    Bring politics into the sport, no matter who Brian France endorses, simply gives people who disagree with his politics pause. I've never heard a stick and ball team owner make a pronouncement like this. In areas of the country where folks don't look upon Donald Trump kindly they will look at NASCAR the same way.

    Brian France wants a clean family atmosphere for NASCAR, yet he supports a presidential candidate who does what I taught my children never to do.

    The sport is smaller for this.

    1. The owner of the New England Patriots was in the news less than 48 hours ago for making a sizeable contribution to the Trump campaign. It's pretty common, actually.

  9. RobertG.7:43 PM

    A few comments:
    1) Yes Brian France knows he doesn't represent NASCAR when he endorses Trump. But lots of others don't. Especially when he is there with NASCAR drivers. Whether they should know or not doesn't matter if they associate them together. The fact that Trump has been using #NASCAR in tweets and statements of NASCAR support without any clarification from Brian France that he was acting strictly as a private citizen and asking Trump to remove any NASCAR references doesn't help distance the two.
    2) Yes he has the right to support whoever he desires. But people have the right to make decisions on the sport based on their feelings on that support.
    3) One of the issues is why was NASCAR against Trump last year but now the CEO and multiple drivers are endorsing him? People can't always separate the two.
    4) For a sport that has a past reputation of not being inclusive (right or wrong)to then be associated with a candidate that is also getting a reputation of not being inclusive is risky. Always a chance to drive away those fans that are on the fence. You can say maybe they aren't true fans, but butts in the seats or eyes on the tubes help pay the bills.
    5) Some people are saying that it is divisive just because you don't like the candidate. What would happen if Brian France had decided to publicly support a Mosque? Imagine the outrage from the fans at that point?
    So as a public figure, you have to weigh your rights vs public response to you exercising them. Yes too many people look up to public figures or are swayed by their statements. But it has always been that way. Why were Hollywood actors used in drives to help the war effort for WWII? Because they knew people would look up to them vs a random citizen.

  10. First , I am Canadian, so I don't have a horse in the race. I think Mr. France has an obligation to the teams not to publicly support any candidate, The teams rely on sponsorship dollars to compete. As the face of Nascar the France family should make every effort not to alienate any group. The teams employ 1000's of people and should not lose even 1 opportunity to land sponsorship deal, because a CEO, marketing head or Joe down at the garage are upset about Mr. France's political leanings. While Mr France is free to participate in politics just like every other citizen, there at least needs to be a discussion on the possible impact of his decisions/actions on the people who's livelihood depend on him. Sometimes having the right to do something has to be tempered by the impact on others, by exercising that right. That being said, He is a multi millionaire and me, well I'm sitting on the couch commenting on a Facebook link, so that's Brian 1, me 0

  11. I am no big Brian France fan by any means, but I give him tremendous credit for having the courage to publicly state his convictions, and to risk the possible negative results from doing so. It actually raises my opinion of him.

  12. Big Bill supported George Wallace for Prez. Family tradition.

  13. Anonymous3:56 PM

    From what I've seen in the past, it's not unusual for BZF to donate to several political candidates or political parties. He was accused by his former wife and in-laws of making donations in their names without their permission.

    While he may have said he's endorsing T-rump, there's been a clip on Fox News of Ted Cruz speaking the night of Suer Tuesday and unless BZF has a twin, he was standing in the background on Cruz's left side.

    Let's see if the lamestream media catches that or they miss it.

  14. If I was Daniel Suarez, I'd ask if I was welcome anymore. Same with Danica & Bubba Wallace. Drive for Diversity was probably fairly pleased with this endorsement, right?

  15. Anonymous12:59 AM

    Mr. France has had a great batting average lately. Batting averages, being what they are, would suggest a swing and a miss now and then.

  16. Anonymous7:28 PM

    Now I know how Hitler got in power. All those statements from people about what he can do for the country (white people) make me wonder because he has never said what he will do or how he will do it. Just a lot of white noise (no pun intended). Brian France and most people associated with NASCAR appear to have always had leanings toward the right. We have to realize that the people in the South and the majority demographic that follows NASCAR are most at risk for losing their jobs to ambitious hard working new arrivals or hard working non-whites. They are afraid that empowered non-whites are going to rise up and take the place the current lower middle class white occupies...so understandably, they will vote for someone who says they are going to be protected. Guess what, if Trump gets in (thankfully there are more Democrats nationally that GOP) the only people who will benefit are his cronies and lower middle class will be status quo. So Brian France supporting Trump and all that family BS is rich guy sign language for "if you get in, take care of me". Everything in this world is self serving.

  17. Anonymous9:42 PM

    not surprised you didn't post my previous comment....typical GOP BS + Suckup to Brian France = suppression. Too bad, I like your blog.

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