Last Monday’s Geico 500 at Talladega was NASCAR’s first race with fans since it banned the Confederate flag.
Although none were allowed in the stadium, the flag was still on display. Someone flew a plane over the tarmac with a Confederate flag banner saying “Defund NASCAR,” and the parking lots were full of them.
Bubba Wallace, a vocal advocate for banning the banners, was unfazed by the protests outside the racecourse.
“It’s your right to protest peacefully, man, so it’s part of it,” Wallace said on FOX Sports. “But you won’t see them on the race track, where we are having fun with the new fans who bought their tickets, bought the clothes of their favorite driver. You won’t see it flying there. Outside they are going to make a lot of noise. You know, it’s part of it. It is exactly what you see on the flip side of everything that happens in the cities as they peacefully protest. But you won’t see the cops spraying pepper and shooting them with rubber bullets, will you?
Wallace is the only black driver in the NASCAR Cup. In the days leading up to the ban, he made clear why he believed there was no place for the Confederate flags on the track, but still anticipated the reaction.
“No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race,” Wallace said on CNN. “So it starts with Confederate flags. Get them out of here. They have no place for them. There will be many angry people who carry those flags with pride, but it is time to change. We have to change that, and I encourage NASCAR: We will have those conversations to remove those flags. “
It was a tumultuous week for Wallace in Alabama as a rope shaped rope was found in his garage Sunday night. However, an FBI investigation determined that Wallace was not attacked, as the rope had been hanging like that since last year.
“It has been an emotional few days,” Wallace said in a written statement, which he tweeted. “First of all, I want to say how relieved I am that the investigation revealed that this was not what we feared. I want to thank my team, NASCAR and the FBI for acting quickly and treating this as a real threat. I think we’ll gladly be ashamed of what the alternatives might have been. Make no mistake, although some will try, this should not distract us from the show of unity we had on Monday and from the progress we have made as a sport to be a more welcoming environment for everyone. ”
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