JOLIET, Ill. - NASCAR's BAM Racing team is in discussions with Barack Obama's presidential campaign about a potential sponsorship deal in the Sprint Cup series later this year.
Team spokesman Rhett Vandiver told The Associated Press on Friday that the team has made a sponsorship proposal to the Democratic presidential hopeful's campaign, and has made similar proposals to the campaign of Republican John McCain and at least one third-party candidate.
Sports Illustrated first reported the proposal on its Web site, saying Obama's campaign is in talks with BAM, a part-time operation that hasn't raced in recent weeks, to sponsor its No. 49 car in the Aug. 3 race at Pocono.
"I don't know how far along the discussions are," Vandiver told AP.
Asked about the talks, Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, "We get a lot of good ideas every day, but there are no such agreements in place at this time."
Should the deal come together, it is believed to be the first time a presidential campaign has sponsored a car in NASCAR's top series — and a fairly bold move within a sport whose competitors spend all year turning left on the track but tend to lean to the right politically.
But the campaign's choice of drivers and car brands might turn out to be a little bit sticky politically.
The car, a Toyota, would be driven by veteran Ken Schrader.
According to the Federal Election Commission's Web site, Schrader gave $1,000 to the campaign of North Carolina Republican congressman Robin Hayes in June 2004, and a total of $2,500 in 2003 and 2004 to the failed Virginia congressional campaign of Republican Kevin Triplett, a former NASCAR official.
Also according to the FEC, Mrs. Ann Schrader of Concord, N.C. and Ken Schrader Racing donated a total of $2,000 to President Bush's campaign in May 2004 and $900 to the North Carolina Republican Executive Committee in August 2004.
NASCAR has been playing an increasing role in politics, as so-called "NASCAR dads" were considered a key constituency in recent elections.
A Cup series car carried a George W. Bush logo in 2004 but wasn't officially associated with the campaign. And Democratic presidential hopeful Bob Graham sponsored a truck in the Craftsman Truck Series in 2003.