It’s election season and many people are showing their preferences by wearing hats, t-shirts, hanging posters and flags to celebrate their choices. Some have even put their preferred candidate’s names on their racecar.
Not so fast, says the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), which posted a revision to its general rules on August 26th. During the recent Dodge NHRA Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway outside Indianapolis, Pro Mod racer and 2017 Pro Stock champion Bo Butner ran large decals with the colors of Trump/Pence 2020 on the Camaro race car he raced to the finals. Butner has been known to showcase unusual paint schemes on his Pro Stock cars and crew uniforms in the past, but this is the first time he’s professed his political preferences on a car.
In its general regulations, NHRA states its right to “regulate any advertising or other material that is present on-site at any NHRA event, including without limitation any material appearing on any participant, on the body or any other visible art of any vehicle or transporter participating in NHRA events, including support vehicles, in any pit area, in any area of the dragstrip from the staging lanes to the end of the dragstrip.”
It clarified that rule on Wednesday by stating: “The NHRA logo or name may not be used in conjunction with political candidates. If a race team legitimately is sponsored by a political candidate, then the candidate’s name and the year of the election may appear on the race vehicle (but the vehicle will not be prominently featured/emphasized on television or in other content, per broadcast standards and practices). Decal size will be limited to 144 square inches on a race vehicle and 48 square inches on a motorcycle.”
Butner, driving a Camaro owned by Rickie Smith, prominently featured the Republican party’s campaign logos; these logos were never broadcast through qualifying and eliminations. It’s been reported NHRA came to Butner’s pit area to request changing the logos. The series did not want to draw the ire of Fox Sports, its broadcast partner, as broadcasters are banned from airing one campaign’s materials. It’s the “Equal Time Rule” that has been effective for many years.
This ruling applies to all categories of NHRA racing, but was specifically sent to competitors in Pro Mod, Top Fuel Harley and Factory Stock Showdown.
The NHRA’s DENSO Spark Plugs U.S. Nationals takes place on Labor Day weekend and includes the three categories cited.