US senator JOHN McCAIN was the grand marshal for Saturday's NASCAR Nextel Cup Subway Fresh 500 race at Phoenix International Raceway. This was the senior senator's first time at PIR, and he said he was concerned that he wouldn't get the words right (he did) and/or he would drool on TV (he didn't).
McCain said: "NASCAR is very impressive watching a lot on television, and probably the biggest single event that takes place in our valley all year, but now twice a year. We are certainly glad to have our visitors from all over the country spend a lot of money. We are grateful for that."
McCain was asked if he would encourage Congress to help clean up rough driving in NASCAR, as it had helped police other sports. He replied: "NASCAR has done a good job so far with policing its sport. It's a wonderful sport. I would hate to see Congress screw it up."
The junior senator from Arizona, JOHN KYL accompanied McCain to PIR on Saturday. Kyl has been coming to PIR for the past thirty years, having started out as a SCCA corner worker. Kyl noted a lot of changes since then.
McCain was asked a variety of questions in a short media conference on Saturday afternoon. Yes, he is considering running for president, and will make his decision early next year. He had planned on making the announcement this time next year. When asked about his military involvement, he said "Great fighter pilots shot down the enemy. I got shot down."
McCain was asked a lot of questions on oil consumption, rising gasoline prices and possible solutions. He pointed to Brazil, a large country which weaned itself off oil by changing over to ethanol. At $10 a barrel for oil, ethanol didn't seem that great. At $75 a barrel, ethanol makes a lot more sense. Having ethanol run by the Indy Racing League and at the Indianapolis 500 has a great psychological effect which will be beneficial.
One of the current fuel concerns is that there are problems and uncertainty in the major oil supplying countries. And, in the United States, the regulatory and environmental controls add to the cost of fuel. Ethanol is a viable option, as the technology has improved dramatically.
McCain is a big proponent of nuclear power, and pointed to France as an example, which is using it a lot. It's a clean source. And Russia just announced plans for 40 new nuclear plants.
The weather was hot Saturday at PIR, there was a stiff breeze which cut the heat, and the crowds were plentiful and enthusiastic.