NASCAR has been around a long time and so have I, and this is the first time in 40 years I’ve written about them and stock car driving.
NASCAR is the great American race circuit—so they call themselves. You’ve heard of the Daytona 500 in Daytona, Florida. You see, I have never desired all these years to write about NASCAR because through the lens I’ve viewed them I’ve perceived them to be racist.
They have one Black driver currently. He’s pretty good, one of the best—Bubba Wallace.
NASCAR has as long as I can remember allowed fans to bring Confederate flags to their events, and from my neck of the woods that is not good. You see, my mom and dad, Mr. and Mrs. Robert and Sally Fitzgerald, were born and raised in Natchez, Mississippi.
You might say I never took to the good old boys and those so-called red necks that I came across, something about people carrying a flag that represented the Deep South during the Civil War. If you remember, President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves; the North, or Yankees as they were referred to, won that war. That’s why we have the United States of America, thank goodness.
The Confederates and flag owners are sore losers. They hated that slavery ended and they lost the war, so they have hung on to one of the most dangerous symbols in history. That damn Confederate flag!
I hated it when I would drive my son Marcus annually to Marshall University when he was in college in West Virginia back in the day. I would see many of those flags on my drive from Minnesota through Chicago, Indiana, and into western Kentucky.
Two weeks ago Wallace asked NASCAR to finally ban the Confederate flag. It took two days and they said yes. Since the murder of George Floyd on 38th and Chicago, suddenly some people are finally coming to their senses.
Steve Phelps is one of them. After all these damn years the president of NASCAR bans the Confederate flag at NASCAR events.
Like Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeannie Buss said, “White people need to stop ignoring racism.” Last week in Talladega, Alabama at NASCAR’s Superspeedway event someone placed a hangman’s noose in Wallace’s garage stall. Hatred lives, right?
NASCAR and the FBI launched an investigation to find out who was responsible for the noose in Wallace’s garage, and they determined it not to be a hate crime. They concluded the unit’s pull rope had been fashioned into a noose prior to October 2019.
My questions are, did the FBI determine if the noose had been used before? Why was the noose there in the first place? To intimidate, humiliate or anger Wallace? Why did a NASCAR representative select that garage for Wallace? After all, the noose was there since October of last year.
Phelps has outlined steps NASCAR will take moving forward, including sensitivity and unconscious bias training for all members of the industry. Good luck—sounds like a plan. Maybe burning all Confederate flags and nooses on site will help…
A racetrack in North Carolina that calls itself the “Daytona of Dirt” is losing a couple of partnerships after posting an advertisement for “BUBBA Rope.” 311 Speedway has lost its partnership with a concrete company that had sponsored the races.
Phelps says, “Our ultimate conclusion for this investigation is to insure that this never happens again, that no one walks by a noose without recognizing the potential damage it can do.” White people are asking us for the benefit of the doubt. That is not supported by the historical record.
In the meantime America is stuck between where it needs to go and those who are okay with where it is.