NASCAR Asks Fans Not to Display Confederate Flag at Races
In a statement released Thursday, the sanctioning body asked fans "to refrain from dispalying the Confederate flag at our facilities and NASCAR events."
Confederate flags are a common sight in the infields at the Daytona International Speedway and at racetracks throughout the South, but NASCAR officials want fans to stop flying them in the wake of the attack on a South Carolina church that left nine black churchgoers dead. Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old charged in the killings, is shown posing with the Confederate flag in photographs posted on social media before the shootings.
NASCAR — the sanctioning body affiliated with the Sprint Cup Series — released a statement Thursday asking fans "to join us in a renewed effort to create an all-inclusive, even more welcoming atmosphere for all who attend our events. This will include the request from displaying the Confederate flag."
In a radio interview, NASCAR chairman Brian France said: "We've taken the position that we need to disassociate ourselves with that symbol, that flag in every way that we can because it just represents a very offensive message." France added, "Our tracks are working on the right kind of solution to work with our fans."
Officials at the Daytona International Speedway announced Wednesday that the track will offer to exchange any flag with a new American flag at the Subway Firecracker 250 NASCAR race to be held July 4.
"Going forward, [we] really have to look where that other flag goes because it doesn't have a place in our sport," said Joie Chitwood III, the racetrack's president.
For the last decade, NASCAR has kept the Confederate flag from appearing on official materials, licensed merchandise and race cars, The Wall Street Journal reported. But its appearance at tracks across the South has persisted.
Last weekend at a Sprint Cup event at the Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., NASCAR star driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. said, "I've made my comments about the Confederate flag several times, and I stand behind NASCAR's stance to remove it. I think it's offensive to an entire race. It belongs in the history books, that's about it."