They grew up in the sport. It is part of their culture. It has always been part of their life. It represents where they lived, grew up, and live now.
And now it is going to change now whether they like it or not.
They were part of the good ole boy culture. The way it was always done forever. They rooted for the Flock Brothers, the Petty Family, the Alabama Gang.
Moonshiners became race card drivers. Out running the cops was just like out running the rest of the pack in a Saturday night trophy dash.
What was, won’t be the same starting next week.
NASCAR is removing all things linked to the Confederate Flag, removing something that has part of Southern auto racing since the 1950s, when the Daytona Beach race moved to the massive complex known as Daytona International Speedway.
It’s hard to believe, that in 2020, some are still living and using symbols that was part of life in 1950.
It stunned me a year ago this spring, while driving across West Virginia and into coal mine country of Southern Virginia, to see it everywhere.
It, Confederate Flags, flying off buildings, in town’s squares, in front yards, and cars driven on highways and trucks on back roads.
Bubba Wallace is the lone African-American driver on the NASCAR circuit. He drove an all ‘Black Lives Matter’ sponsored car in the Atlanta 500 on Wednesday night. It was a statement that suddenly many others in NASCAR wrapped their arms around.
Black drivers have been few and far between. Curtis Turner was the first to drive across the color barrier, but that was in the 1950s and 60s. Aside from former Indy car driver Willy Tee-Ribbs, there have been none on the starting grid. They single-handedly fought to be on the track and compete.
They are now revolting in the hot bed of NASCAR support in the Carolina’s, Virginia, Florida and probably elsewhere in the Mid-South.
But what happened quickly in NASCAR, is no different than what is happening nationwide about history and the south.
Monument Avenue in downtown Richmond was picturesque, a salute to history. But now the monuments given to honor Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and others linked to the Confederacy and Civil War, things honoring them, are coming down.
It is a great debate whether we are honoring the history of the 1800s in the South, or honoring the men who served the Confederacy in the Civil War, fighting to retain slavery..
It is an argument, it may have signified an evil time in our country’s history, but it is also a sign of how far our country has supposedly come, so therefore we should not forget it, or act like it never happened.
And so too the arguments about removing the names of people on our great military training facilities, Fort Benning…Bragg…Hood. Those military bases have served our country since before World War i.
The greatest founders of our time, Lincoln and Jefferson owned slaves. Are we to eradicate monuments to them too, because of what was happening in 1776 or 1824?
Or should we retain those monuments as a reminder of patriotic legacy and how times should not be forgotten, but time should change us.
I don’t like what the Confederate Flag stood for. I believe however that stripping an Episcopal church of its honorable name for Robert E. Lee steps over the line. He may have been a General in the war, but he was an educator, a minister, a leader, a politician. There seemed to be alot more good to him, beyond the fact he fought on the wrong side.
Our weeks of protest will continue, and now some will happen at NASCAR tracks, where longtime fans will demand to be able to express their opinions, with their campers and flags, be they Red-White-Blue or the ones that remember the Confederacy.
Yesterday is gone. Fireball Roberts, Jim Weatherly, Richard Petty and Bobby Allison are gone too. New superstars are front of center Now NASCAR wants to rid the sport of its historical decor that takes us back to an era of White Supremacy..
A fight is surely coming in auto racing, not over the green flag or checkered flag, but what the Bars-and-Stars represents.