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Risky Business: Scientology Makes Play Into NASCAR

Risky Business: Scientology Makes Play Into NASCAR

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Kenton Gray With Dianetics-Sponsored Car

The religion of Scientology is the latest entity trying to get "a piece of the action" in NASCAR, as Bridge Publications’ “Dianetics” — the L. Ron Hubbard book about the benefits of the religion — is sponsoring a Freedom Motorsports car in a lower-tier NASCAR series, according to NBC's Michelle Kosinski on this morning’s “Today” show. Bridge Publications Senior VP Mark McKinstry said of the move, "Dianetics is the number one self-help best seller; NASCAR is the number one spectator sport in America. It seemed like a perfect match for us." Freedom Motorsports CEO Grant Cardone said that the Scientology “principles of removing stress and self-doubt will give the Scientologist driver an edge." James Madison Univ. Center for Sports Sponsorship's Larry Degaris, noticeably skeptical about the viability of the sponsorship, said, "It will probably at least open the ears of the NASCAR audience and maybe make them more receptive to hearing the message in the first place — that's not to say that they'll accept it." Kosinski noted, "Research shows a sort of danger associated with this kind of marketing — that race fans are so loyal to drivers and their sponsors that they would of turn away from sponsorship of the competition." Kosinski added NASCAR “didn’t want to comment on Scientology at this point. But they do say not everybody can be a sponsor, that they wouldn't allow, say, a pornography company to come out and advertise in this arena" ("Today," NBC, 6/7). The team, headed by driver Kenton Gray, will debut Saturday at a NASCAR Weekly Series race at Irwindale Speedway in California (N.Y. POST, 6/6).

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