Air Force splits with Army, renews NASCAR race sponsorship

The Air Force is not following the Army’s lead and will renew its NASCAR sponsorship for 2013, the service said Monday.

The Air Force announced it will continue to sponsor the No. 43 car owned by Richard Petty Motorsports as a primary sponsor for two races and an associate the rest of the season, as well as hold events at NASCAR races.

The Army last year decided to drop its 10-year sponsorship amid congressional pressure and potential budget cuts.

Two House lawmakers, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), have led the charge to pass legislation that would stop the military’s sponsorship of NASCAR and other professional sporting events.

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The pair included a provision to end the military’s sponsorship of professional sports in the 2013 Defense Appropriations bill that passed in committee, but it was struck from the bill as it went to the floor.

The lawmakers say spending money on things like NASCAR is unnecessary for the military at a time when budgets are being cut.

The Pentagon is planning to reduce its budgets by $487 billion over the next decade, and DOD faces the prospect of another $500 billion in cuts under sequestration, which the services have been planning for.

The military services, however, argue that sponsoring sporting events helps bring in new recruits.

The Air Force has sponsored NASCAR for the last 13 years, according to NASCAR.com. The National Guard also sponsors a car.

Col. Marcus Johnson, chief of strategic marketing at the Air Force Recruiting Services, said in a statement that the sponsorship is “a great fit for the Air Force and the type of recruits that we look to attract.”