Bubba Wallace, the only black driver on the top-flight Cup Series, wants NASCAR to ban all uses of the Confederate flag at its events. Meanwhile, he and his team, Richard Petty Motorsports, are preparing to race a car Wednesday emblazoned with “#BlackLivesMatter.”
The paint scheme for Wallace’s No. 43 Chevrolet is set to be black, unlike its look in recent races, with an image on the hood of a black hand clasping a white one in solidarity. The front and rear of the car will feature the words “Compassion, Love, Understanding.” In a video his team posted Tuesday, Wallace said, “I’m excited for this opportunity to run #BlackLivesMatter on the car for Martinsville,” referring to the track in southern Virginia hosting the next evening’s 263-mile Cup Series race.
“This statement that we have right here that we’re about to make – running this racecar, being on live television on Fox – I think it’s going to speak volumes for what I stand for,” the 26-year-old added, “but also what the initiative that NASCAR, the whole sport, is trying to push.”
NASCAR has long banned the use of the Confederate flag on its racecars and licensed merchandise, but it hasn’t entirely eradicated what many see as a racist symbol. In 2015, when photos of Dylann Roof posing with the flag surfaced after he murdered nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., NASCAR requested that fans not bring the Confederate flag to its tracks “in a renewed effort to create an all-inclusive, even more welcoming atmosphere for all who attend our events.” It even offered a trade-in program in which fans could swap a flag of their choice for the U.S. flag.
Still, the Confederate flag persists when fans are allowed into tracks. Speaking on CNN on Monday night, Wallace said that needs to change.
“We are trying to figure out next steps. My next step would be to get rid of all Confederate flags,” he said. “There should be no individual that is uncomfortable showing up to our events to have a good time with their family that feels some type of way about something they have seen, an object they have seen flying.
“No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. So it starts with Confederate flags. Get them out of here. They have no place for them.”
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SOURCE: LMT Online