You could say America’s premier motorsports competition is getting left behind — NASCAR is having a hard time.
One of the biggest crowds to come out to a NASCAR oval last year — 157,000 people — was there for college football, not stock-car racing. It may have been the biggest crowd at any NASCAR track all season long, as the Guardian reported.
And now NASCAR is picking fights with legal marijuana, America’s most popular fast-moving industry.
Anyone watching Saturday night’s Monster Energy Cup Series race at Kansas Motor Speedway should have been able to see the sport’s first marijuana-related sponsor — Colorado-based Veedverks — grace the hood of driver Carl Long’s No. 66 Chevrolet.
Should have, except on Friday, NASCAR officials ordered Long — who was about to drive his first race in NASCAR’s top flight in eight years, after suffering through the biggest fine and longest suspension in the history of the sport — to remove Veedverk’s logo.
You can see the car before the removal of the logo — rather innocuous, in our view; nary a fan leaf to be seen — below:
— MBM (@MBMMotorsports) May 12, 2017
Even though cannabis is legal in some form in many of the states in which NASCAR draws fans and hosts races, like California and Nevada, just to name two, and Veedverks makes hemp-derived vape pens that it claims are legal in 50 states, NASCAR determined the company didn’t meet its standards, and so away it went.
The company is furious and is calling out NASCAR for discriminating against both America’s military veterans and the country’s small farmers — never a great look for an all-American brand like NASCAR.
But Long is taking at least some of the blame for the incident. Still rebuilding his career following the record fine and long exile, Long apparently does much of the work on his No. 66 Chevrolet himself. This includes driving the car from North Carolina out to the tracks himself, putting out pleas for sponsors out on Facebook and filing the requisite paperwork to have the sponsors approved.
This is where the wheels came off. Long told NASCAR that his primary sponsor was “Veeoverks,” not “Veedverks” (because the “D” in the company’s logo looks like an “O”, he explained on Facebook).
NASCAR Googled but couldn’t find a company called Veeoverks, but when Long told them it was a vape company, all was well. It was only when he showed up to the track and started to practice that NASCAR figured out Veedverks makes hemp vapes and told him to race with a bare hood.
— MBM (@MBMMotorsports) May 13, 2017
Ever the good sport, Veedverks continued to be the primary sponsor despite having no logo on TV to show for it. But as Jalopnik pointed out, the publicity generated after NASCAR’s prohibitionist turn is worth the $25,000 the company paid for hood placement many times over.
And if NASCAR wants to drive itself into irrelevance by creating ill-will with the Americans it desperately needs to engage — who happen to really, really like weed, in case anyone has forgotten — it’ll only have itself to blame.
TELL US, do you watch NASCAR?