On Monday, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, switching gears from last year, when he yanked a NASCAR banquet from a Donald Trump-owned resort, endorsed the Republican’s presidential candidacy.
Speaking at a Valdosta State University rally for Trump in Georgia, France intoned,
I’ve known Donald for over 20 years. I’m going to tell you one thing about him: You know about his winning in business and success. I’m here to tell you he wins with his family. … Any of his children, you’d be proud to have them as part of your family. That’s how I judge a winner, how somebody manages their family, raises their family.
France sent out a news release stating, “Mr. Trump is changing American politics forever and his leadership and strength are desperately needed.”
NASCAR spokesman David Higdon wrote in an email that France’s endorsement was his own opinion and did not represent NASCAR as a whole, asserting, “Private personal decision by Brian.”
France canceled last year’s banquet after Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis contacted NASCAR and informed them that he and his employees would boycott the Camping World Truck Series banquet if it was held at the Trump National Doral Miami Resort because of Trump’s remarks about immigrants. Lemonis wrote, “Our company will not stand to support any person or organization that associates with such beliefs and we feel strongly about distancing ourselves from any negative and discriminatory comments made against any gender, ethnicity, age group or so forth. I would hope that the entire NASCAR organization would agree with my sentiments.” Higdon had added that the sanctioning organization had been “looking at our own relationship with (Trump) and how it may have an impact and ultimately made the decision it does not make sense to continue that.”
On Monday night Lemonis expressed his own feelings about France’s endorsement:
There is no place for politics/any political endorsements in any business. Your customers and employees should have their own mind. #period
— Marcus Lemonis (@marcuslemonis) March 1, 2016
Lemonis ran for the Florida House of Representatives as a Democrat in the 1990s and has starred in several CNBC shows aspiring for the success of The Apprentice by employing a similar format. In 2012, Lemonis vocally objected to a hunt that Donald Trump’s namesake went on in Africa. He said after pulling ads from The Apprentice, “I wouldn’t spend another nickel with them.”
At the rally, France was joined in his endorsement by NASCAR drivers Bill Elliot, his son Chase, Ryan Newman and David Ragan. Trump boasted, “If the people that like and watch NASCAR vote for Donald Trump, they can cancel the election right now — nobody can win.” Bill Elliot added, “We need a change, guys. That’s all there is to it. And I think this is the man for the job.”