‘The Right Thing’: Charlotte Mayor, Charlotte Motor Speedway Back NASCAR’s Ban of Confederate Flag

Alex Bowman drives during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway Sunday, May 24, 2020, in Concord, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

By patmoran

June 12, 2020

This week’s move was a major surprise from stock car racing’s most visible US body, a fixture in North Carolina.

The Confederate flag will no longer fly at NASCAR races. And Charlotte Motor Speedway and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles applauded the decision.

“The Confederate flag runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry,” NASCAR said in a statement Wednesday. “Bringing people together around a love for racing…is what makes our fans and sport special.”

The display of the divisive stars and bars, decried as a white supremacist symbol of hate by the Anti-Defamation league, is now prohibited from NASCAR properties and events. The ban comes after NASCAR issued an earlier statement in support of racial justice. That statement did not address the flag.

On Thursday, Charlotte Motor Speedway, home to major races such as the Coca Cola 600, the Bank of America Royal 400, and the NASCAR All-Stars Race, backed the decision too.

“The slogan the speedway was founded upon in 1960 was: Charlotte Motor Speedway … ‘It’s for everyone.’ We will always strive to make our facility welcome to all fans,” a speedway spokesperson told Charlotte’s WSOC-TV.

“Thank you @NASCAR for doing the right thing,” Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles Tweeted, saying that the sport was central to both North and South Carolina culture. “I’m glad spectators and fans of all races, particularly Black fans like me, will feel more welcomed and respected at your events.”

In this May photo, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, joined by city council members, talks to press and addressed members of the NC African American Caucus asking that they work in their communities to help teach tolerance and equality (Photo for Cardinal & Pine by Grant Baldwin).

The ban was spurred when Bubba Wallace Jr., the sport’s only full-time Black driver, spoke out against the continued use of the Confederate flag in motor sports in a CNN interview with Don Lemon.

On Wednesday, Wallace praised NASCAR’s statement.

“Props to NASCAR and everybody involved,” Wallace said. “It creates doors and allows the community to come together as one.”

At a race Wednesday night in Martinsville, Va., Wallace drove a car owned by motor sports legend Richard Petty which was decorated on both sides with “Black Lives Matter.”

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