- The decision to ban the Confederate flag was made at African American driver Bubba Wallace’s request.
- Wallace’s No. 43 Chevrolet wore a black colour scheme with BLM hashtags.
- NASCAR has been praised for making the decision, but some fans have expressed their discontent.
The Confederate flag, symbol of cultural and racial controversy, has been banned from NASCAR race events, the sanctioning body announced on June 10th.
It was already forbidden to use the flag on race cars and official merchandise since 2015, but now, nobody—race teams, eventual fans in attendance, anybody—will be able to wave it or display it during events. As such, NASCAR officials are making sure that no one pours gasoline on a fire that’s been burning for several days now, following George Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
“The presence of the confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry. Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the Confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”
The decision was made after Bubba Wallace, the series’ only African American driver, pleaded that the Confederate flag should be banned altogether. During the last race on June 10th, Wallace’s No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro was dressed in black and adorned the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag in addition to the image of a black hand clasping a white hand on the hood. “Compassion, Love, Understanding” could also be read on the front and back of the car.
“Props to NASCAR and everybody involved,” Wallace cited after the official statement was published. “It creates doors and allows the community to come together as one.” Wallace finished the race in 11th position after qualifying in 23rd place.
While NASCAR’s design to ban the Confederate flag was well received, many fans have voiced their discontent on social media, stating they would no longer watch or attend the race series. Custom helmet designer BEAMdesigns, which expressed its disgust on Twitter, going as far as calling NASCAR management “idiots,” was promptly dumped by several drivers, including Wallace, but also Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson.
In addition, NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series driver Ray Ciccarelli isn’t happy at all, posting the following statement on Facebook:
“Well its been a fun ride and dream come true but if this is the direction Nascar is headed we will not participate after 2020 season is over , i don’t believe in kneeling during Anthem nor taken ppl right to fly what ever flag they love. I could care less about the Confederate Flag but there are ppl that do and it doesn’t make them a racist all you are doing is f—ing one group to cater to another and i ain’t spend the money we are to participate in any political BS!! So everything is for SALE!!”
The challenge for NASCAR is to figure out how to enforce the Confederate flag ban when fans will be allowed to return to the events. And that will happen in a few days, as 5,000 people are expected during the June 20-21 racing weekend in Talladega—in Alabama which, ironically, is Wallace’s home state.