Dem lauds National Guard ending sponsorship of NASCAR

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) claimed victory Thursday after the National Guard announced it would be pulling out of its sponsorship of NASCAR.

McCollum said the National Guard had wasted $32 million a year sponsoring driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and another $12 million a year sponsoring Indy Racing League driver Graham Rahal. 

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“Canceling this NASCAR racing team contract is a victory for taxpayers, and I’m pleased to say the National Guard has finally made the correct decision,” McCollum said in a statement. “Paying one race car driver $32 million in taxpayer funds year after year to put a logo on his car has been a complete waste of tax dollars.” 

She said the Pentagon was never able to verify that its professional sports marketing program led to a single recruitment. She said the funds should be used on "proven recruitment efforts."

The Pentagon has spent more than $1 billion in funds on similar sponsorship of sports such as fishing, wrestling and motocross, according to the congresswoman. 

Other branches of the military have ended their sponsorship of NASCAR in the past few years, including the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

McCollum has long attempted to end the funding. She sponsored a failed proposal in 2012 with Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) to cut off the funding to the military's sponsorship of professional sports. 

The National Guard on Wednesday said it would end its sponsorship of the two racers due to "significantly constrained resources."

However, the head of National Guard marketing defended the program and noted that the marketing budget had been cut in half since 2012. 

"Our NASCAR sponsorship was principally a marketing program, intended primarily to build awareness of the National Guard as a career option," Lt. Col. Christian Johnson said. "The NASCAR sponsorship allowed the National Guard to leverage a 77 million fan base and the sport's most popular driver."