If things work out this weekend, I will be able to become a NASCAR fan once again. I have boycotted all things NASCAR for the past several years because that organization refused to allow The Sons of Confederate Veterans to sponsor a car in one of their sanctioned races. That is, hopefully, about to change.
According to a report running in SCV notices, a car bearing the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo will run in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 in Daytona on Feb. 7, 2009. The race will be televised by the Speed Channel at 4 p.m. This will be an ARCA race that is part of Speed Week in Daytona leading up to the Daytona 500.
NASCAR’s refusal to allow the original car to run was followed up by a ban on all displays of the Confederate Battle Flag at any NASCAR events. No flags, bumper stickers, clothing or other material containing the Battle Flag were allowed. They went as far as to threaten firing anyone who displayed any Confederate icon in any way.
In October 2005 I published an article entitled “NASCAR’s Brian France betrays the South.” In the article, which appeared in The Madison County Journal, I objected strongly to this action and called for a boycott of all things NASCAR until they relented and allowed Southern pride to return to their events. That article received the greatest response of anything I have ever written. It was referenced, quoted or reprinted in its entirety by sports writers and Internet pages throughout the South. My e-mail box was full of support for my position.
NASCAR attempted to ban Southern heritage in an effort to expand from a regional sport to one of international importance. It didn’t work. In recent years, NASCAR has fallen on hard times. Their TV audiences have declined. Ticket sales are down. They are having trouble finding sponsors for their cars. All of this was happening before the current economic problems became apparent.
Stock car racing is, after all, a Southern sport. It developed from the county fair races featuring former moonshine cars and drivers. Its early champions were all Southerners. And the stands at every race were filled with fans singing Dixie and waving rebel flags. When Brian France attempted to ban these Southern symbols, he insulted the very people who had given NASCAR it success.
Now NASCAR has a chance to return to its roots. I hope the decision sticks. But it is still possible that after all the effort to prepare the car and find a team and driver to race it. NASCAR still can, and may, make the same decision as before. I will not be surprised. Hopefully, they realize their mistake and the car will be allowed to run in Daytona next Saturday.
I plan to watch my first NASCAR sponsored race on TV in years. If the SCV car is in the race, I will rejoin their fan base. If not, my boycott will continue.
That is the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 in Daytona on Feb. 7, 2009, at 4 p.m. Eastern time on the Speed Channel. NASCAR has a chance to win back a lot of Southern Heritage viewers. I hope they don’t mess it up.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is email@example.com. His website can be accessed at http://frankgillispie.tripod.com/
I feel that it is a disgrace to ban the "FLAG"this was no more than a Money Grab trying to bring more minorities in to the sport.Those who make the statement this flag stands for slavery have no knowledge of the South's History.There are hate groups that have adopted the Battle Flag,and their are hate groups that use our Stars and Stripes,do we quit saying the pledge to our Flag ? Do we take it down and hide it ? Coming from a racing family I have always been big on NASCAR,but no longer.Until NASCAR recognizes the people that made the sport great,my Southern Pride and Heritage will not allow me to follow this sport any longer.I will post a couple of spots to look at,what Flag are they carrying? http://www.pointsouth.com/csanet/kkk.htm http://www.rulen.com/kkk/