NASCAR still has some time before it reveals how it will enforce the ban on Confederate flags at its races. That’s because there haven’t been any fans attending races due to the pandemic. But its first big test will be at one of the most Southern of the southern tracks: Talladega. NASCAR will allow 5,000 fans at that race on June 20-21. Let’s be honest; the Talladega race is a sea of Confederate flags. It’s a sea of Confederate flags before you even enter the track as fans and vendors line up displaying and selling an assortment of flags. And right now NASCAR can’t say how it will enforce the Confederate flag ban.
We say that because NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell in an interview yesterday couldn’t say how to enforce the ban. “That will certainly be a challenge,” he said on SiriusXM. “We’ll try to do that the right way.” One would hope.
How do you enforce possibly thousands of unhappy NASCAR fans waving Confederate flags?
The thought of a sea of Confederate flags waving once fans have made it to the track boggles the mind. If you’re NASCAR how do you enforce possibly thousands of unhappy fans waving Confederate flags? If that were to happen and NASCAR says they have to leave, how do you escort a few thousand fans out of the gates while a race is happening?
“We’ll get ahead of it as we are today in letting people know that, ‘Hey, we’re all about pride, we’re all about America, fly your U.S. flag high, fly your driver’s flags high and come on in to the track,”’ said O’Donnell. “But if we see something displayed at the track, we’re going to have to react, and we will. More details to come but I’m confident we’ll do that and we’ll do that in a smart way.”
The banning of the flag has been met in different ways as one would expect. Some fans don’t care, some are resigned to the idea, and others-well, it has been a tough week. Jason Beam is a NASCAR driver helmet artist. Some of his clients include Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. At least they did before Beam got on Twitter to rant.
“All respect lost for ya dawg”
Beam tweeted that the ban was “erasing only particular elements of history.” Bubba Wallace, who initiated the idea of banning the flag and has been running his car with a Black Lives Matter paint scheme responded. “You made it clear of where you stand in today’s matter,” he tweeted. “All respect lost for ya dawg.”
Driver Jimmie Johnson tweeted, “Due to recent posts on social media I have decided to end my relationship with Beam Designs.” Ryan Blaney tweeted, “In light of some inappropriate tweets I will no longer use the services of Beam Designs.” Driver Joey Logano also parted with Beam.
It’s not pretty but each side is taking a stand. Some of the fans who say they’re leaving NASCAR might be replaced by others who appreciate the inclusivity of the flag ban. So things could even out. We hope this is the end of the sniping but unfortunately, we think it has only just begun.