The familiar scene of Confederate flags waved by fans at NASCAR tracks is now a thing of the past.
NASCAR released a statement Wednesday afternoon banning the practice.
“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 it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the Confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”
Bubba Wallace — the lone black driver in the sport — wanted the stock car series with deep ties to the South to ban the flag at its properties and formally distance itself from what for millions is a symbol of slavery and racism.
Wallace — who wore a black T-shirt with the words “I Can’t Breathe” at Sunday’s race — seized the moment and issued his most compelling comments yet on the topic of race and racing: “My next step would be to get rid of all Confederate flags.”
“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,” Wallace told CNN. “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.”
Wallace arrived in the sport hyped as a trailblazer of sorts in a series that has long lacked diversity in the field. He finished second in the 2018 Daytona 500, but has had limited success and often needed patchwork sponsorship deals to keep racing. His biggest reach for now is as an agent of change: The 26-year-old Alabama native has pushed the issue of race to the front burner for NASCAR.
“We want all to feel welcome at our events in the future,” said Daryl Wolfe, NASCAR executive vice president and chief sales and operations officer.
NASCAR has been more open in recent times to the eradication of the Confederate flag. Former chairman Brian France in 2015 tried to ban the flying of Confederate flags at race tracks, a proposal too broad to enforce and one that angered NASCAR’s core Southern-based fan base.