The popularity of NASCAR has prompted a wide variety of groups – some of them controversial, such as the recent flap over NRA sponsorship of the Sprint Cup race at Texas – to try to get their message across to its audience. But at this weekend's NASCAR events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, perhaps the most improbable NASCAR "advertiser" yet surfaced in the form of a mobile electronic billboard outside the Speedway grounds airing a video advertisement promoting the legalization of marijuana.
The Marijuana Policy Project, a non-profit group which works to change state laws to reduce or eliminate penalties for the medical and non-medical use of marijuana, erected the sign in protest against the state of Indiana's strong stand against the banned substance, which is says is among the harshest in the nation. The video (shown below), promotes marijuana as the "new beer" and claims it is less harmful than alcohol. This year's Brickyard 400 features Crown Royal whisky as a presenting sponsor.
“We hope racing fans who support marijuana prohibition will question the logic of punishing adults simply for using a product that is safer than those produced by sponsors of NASCAR events and teams that race in them,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project.
Although it was supposed to be up throughout the weekend, The Sporting News reports that the message was pulled on Friday by billboard owner Grazie Media under pressure from an anti-drug group.
IMS issued a statement making it clear it had no involvement in the matter.
“The electronic advertising billboard featuring a video from the Marijuana Policy Project is not affiliated or associated with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” the statement said. “The billboard is not located on speedway property or on any property over which IMS has control.”