The flag is entwined with the Southern roots of the sport but it’s no longer welcomed, as of today
Confederate flags are a part of the core of your typical NASCAR fans. The Southern based sport has brought the display of Confederate flags to track across the country.
They’re carried into the grandstands. You can find them scattered throughout the RV parks and camping areas of any track. T-shirts featuring the rebel flag can be seen, everywhere. And it’s not uncommon to see a tattoo of the flag.
NASCAR can’t get away from it. But, in the minds of most who elect to display the flag, it doesn’t have anything to do with race. It’s about showing pride for their own home roots, in the South.
But, the flag isn’t welcomed by the minority crowd. It makes them uncomfortable.
In theory, any and all fans should feel comfortable at the family atmosphere of a NASCAR track.
Events leading to the ban
George Floyd was killed during an arrest on May 25, 2020. He died from injuries after three Minneapolis police officers stood on his body for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. One officer, Derek Chauvin pressed he knee on the back of Floyd’s neck in the process.
Since, people have taken to the streets, from coast to coast. Nearly the entire city of Minneapolis is in ruins amid violent protests.
The times are changing, rapidly. The world of NASCAR wasn’t numb to the situation as they took to the race track last weekend. At Atlanta Motor Speedway, a NASCAR official kneeled during the National Anthem. A sight previously unheard of in the world of NASCAR.
Ahead of the green at Atlanta, Steve Phelps, the President of NASCAR parked the cars on the race track and made a 30 second speech. The entirety of the speech was about change and doing better, as a sport.
Earlier this week, the only African-American driver, Bubba Wallace called for the ban of the Confederate flags at NASCAR races.
“We are trying to find next-steps. And my next step would be to get rid of all Confederate flags,” Bubba Wallace stated
He added, “There should be no individual that is uncomfortable showing up to our events, to have a good time. That feels some type of way about something they have seen, an object they have seen flying.”
NASCAR bans confederate flags
In recent years, NASCAR has encouraged fans to leave the flags at home. But, encouragement hasn’t reduced the number of flags displayed at race tracks.
Tonight at Martinsville, Bubba Wallace will take to the grid with a Black Lives Matter livery. At the same point, NASCAR has taken steps to bridge the gaps to a minority audience.
NASCAR has officially banned the display of Confederate flags at events and the tracks that host events of the sanction.
The following statement was released just a few hours ahead of the race at Martinsville Speedway:
“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 NASCAR statement read.