In recent years, politics and NASCAR have played hand-in-hand. Presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush (First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden were at Homestead last season) have come to races and candidates for the office have made it an obligatory stop – Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were at Daytona this election cycle.
So it only seems fitting that we have a NASCAR team owner running for office – in this case it’s RAB Racing’s Robby Benton.
Benton, who against all odds has kept RAB going and thriving in a sport dominated by much better funded organizations, is a candidate for the Republican nomination for a Senate seat in the North Carolina General Assembly. The district, #41, covering north and a sliver of east Mecklenburg County is a decidedly safe Republican district.
Benton though faces a tough primary against five opponents including favorite, Cornelius, N.C. Mayor Jeff Tarte. The winner of the primary is very likely to go on to win in November.
Benton isn’t alone in the ranks of NASCAR team owners pursuing elected office. In 1996, Richard Petty was the Republican nominee for North Carolina Secretary of State. Petty ultimately didn’t put a lot into campaigning and lost the election by 8 points to then State Senator and current N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.
I’m no political prognosticator, but this is no doubt an interesting item to keep an eye on.