MARTINSVILLE, Va.--After a strong statement on the need for racial unity on Sunday, NASCAR put its words into action before Wednesday night’s Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.
Henceforth, the Confederate flag, once a common sight on NASCAR weekends, will be banned from race tracks under official NASCAR policy.
The sanctioning body made that clear in no uncertain terms with a statement on Wednesday, three days after NASCAR president Steve Phelps addressed drivers and their crews with an eloquent pre-race speech.
“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,” the statement read.
“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.”
NASCAR’s move to ban the Stars and Bars did not go unnoticed in the world at large. Stephanie Ruhle, subbing for Ari Melber on MSNBC’s “The Beat,” led her Wednesday broadcast with the breaking news. Ruhle credited Lesa France Kennedy, vice chairperson of the NASCAR board of directors, as a driving force in the decision.
In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis policemen, Bubba Wallace, an African-American driver, called for the banning of the flag.
On Wednesday night at Martinsville, Wallace drove a No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet with a “Black Lives Matter” paint scheme.
"No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race," Wallace said on CNN. "It starts with Confederate flags. Get them out of here. They have no place for them."
Clearly, NASCAR agrees.