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“We were seeing quite a bit of violence coming from the south side,” said Shawn Moran, senior patrol agent at the San Diego Border Patrol sector and vice president of the National Border Patrol Council. “The people who we were catching were resorting to rocks, bottles and improvised weapons that they can find to assault our agents.”

Moran said that while recruitment is important, keeping current personnel in the field during the 2008 surge in violence was more urgent. He said he would have preferred to see some of the NASCAR sponsorship money being spent instead on backup personnel for his sector.

A key demographic of NASCAR fans matches those sought by border patrol recruiters: white males who are between the ages of 18 and 30 without college degrees, explained Larry DeGaris, an associate professor of marketing at University of Indianapolis who launched a national study examining sponsorship effectiveness in NASCAR in 2004.

Though targeting a rich recruitment pool, the agency’s tactics may have been faulty in the critical effort of converting imagery into action, he said.

The most prominent advertisement in the terms of the contract was the decals on the No. 28 racecar, but they only featured the logos of the agency. So, even if the fans saw the car circling around the track in person or on TV, they would not have known that the Border Patrol was actually hiring.

For fans to learn the agency was recruiting, they would have had to look at the team’s racecar trailer, which had the sign reading, “Now hiring” or stopped at the agency’s recruiting booth during race festivities.

The various military branches have tried similar NASCAR promotions to boost recruitment, but with little result.

The National Guard has and still continues to sponsor NASCAR, despite acknowledging that in fiscal year 2012, only 20 of the 24,800 contacts made from the NASCAR sponsorship qualified and none actually joined.

And that has prompted some in Congress to try to force the end of such expenditures.

“Why would we need to spend so much money on a recruitment tactic that has not proven effective?” asked Chris Crawford, press secretary for Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., who co-sponsored a bill to ban military spending for sponsoring professional or semi-professional motorsports, fishing, wrestling or other sports. It was defeated in July.

Ironically, the Border Patrol has steadily grown its ranks since the NASCAR sponsorship, and the number of agents totaled 21,000 at the end of fiscal year 2010.