A few weekends ago, I was strolling down my street in D.C. when I noticed something odd. No, not the massive Masonic temple adorned with a pair of stone sphinxes and an eerie ziggurat. (The temple’s certainly odd, but D.C. residents quickly stop noticing it.) Rather, what caught my eye was the scene in front of the temple: On the wide steps, beneath the sphinxes’ unnerving gaze, there sat a bright blue, NASCAR-style race car, looking entirely out of place—as though it had magically teleported to this spot from some tobacco-stained test track in North Carolina.
On the car’s hood—where you’d expect to find the logo of a famous brand, like Home Depot or Budweiser—there was a painting of an eagle with two heads. On the car’s side was a strange little glyph: a drafter’s compass crossed with a set square. On the rear bumper was written “ScottishRite.org.”
The Scottish Rite is a worldwide organization of Freemasons—the centuries-old fraternity that is sometimes accused of controlling “like, everything, man,” and counts among its members several founding fathers and a slew of presidents (including George Washington, both Roosevelts, and, more recently, Gerald Ford). The Rite’s global headquarters are housed in that giant, intimidating temple on my street. The compass with square is a traditional symbol of Freemasonry. None of which answers my real question: Why on earth are the Masons advertising on the hood of a stock car?