Samsung, the race’s sponsor since 2002, elected not to renew its sponsorship, according to The Sporting News. The NRA’s sponsorship agreement with Texas Motor Speedway runs for one year with an option to renew; NASCAR has final approval of all sponsorship deals on its circuits.
The NRA’s sponsorship of NASCAR’s Texas 500 comes at an uncomfortable moment for both organizations. After the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, the NRA briefly retreated from public view, before roaring back with a seemingly-unhinged defense from its executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre. LaPierre has blamed popular video games, books, and movies for creating a culture of violence in America — but crucially, not crash-filled racing events that intermittently cause injury and death for everyone from drivers to spectators. Meanwhile, NASCAR, which co-sponsored Michael Waltrip’s Sandy Hook School Support Toyota car at Daytona in honor of the elementary school students killed by a man with an assault rifle in Newtown, is now in bed with the leading defender of gun rights in the world.