By Annie Ross
Two days after Bubba Wallace, the lone black driver in NASCAR’s three national series, called for the sanctioning body to ban all Confederate flags at racetracks, the organization did just that.
“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. Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special,” NASCAR said in a statement Wednesday. “The display of the Confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”
The move comes amid social unrest around the globe following the death in police custody of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, on May 25 in Minneapolis. Protests have swept the United States since Floyd’s death, and Confederate monuments are being taken down across the South, the traditional home of NASCAR’s fan base.
Wallace commended the move before last night’s race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia.
“Props to NASCAR and everybody involved,” he told Fox Sports 1, which broadcast the race.
“[NASCAR president Steve] Phelps and I have been in contact a lot, just trying to figure out what steps are next, and that was a huge, pivotal moment. A lot of backlash for the sport, but it creates doors and allows the community to come together as one. And that’s what the real mission is here. So I’m excited about that and just gonna keep going on tonight.”
Confederate flags have been a familiar sight at NASCAR races over the sport’s 72-year history, dotting the infield atop RVs or being waved by fans in the grandstands, though the stock car series, with its roots in moonshine running, has in recent years taken steps to sever the connection.