NASCAR bans Confederate flag after demand by Bubba Wallace

The move comes after Bubba Wallace, NASCAR's lone Black driver, said there was 'no place' for the flag in the sport.

Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 McDonald’s Chevrolet, wears a “I Can’t Breath – Black Lives Matter” T-shirt under his fire suit in solidarity with protesters around the world taking to the streets after the death of George Floyd on May 25 while in the custody of Minneapolis, Minnesota police, stands during the national anthem prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on June 07, 2020 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from its races and properties on Wednesday, formally distancing itself from what for many is a symbol of slavery and racism that had been a familiar sight at stock car events for more than 70 years.

The move comes amid social unrest around the globe following the death in police custody of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis. Protests have roiled the nation for days and Confederate monuments are being taken down across the South — the tradtiional fan base for NASCAR.

READ MORE: U.S. Marines bans depictions of confederate flag at its installations

Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s lone Black driver, called this week for the banishment of the Confederate flag and said there was “no place” for them in the sport. At long last, NASCAR obliged.

Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, stands by his car before qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on February 29, 2020 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

“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,” NASCAR said. “Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that 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.”

The move was announced before Wednesday night’s race at Martinsville Speedway where Wallace, an Alabama native, was driving a Chevrolet with a #BlackLivesMatter paint scheme. Wallace got a shoutout on Twitter from several athletes, including NBA star LeBron James, for using the paint scheme in the race.

READ MORE: NASCAR stands for ‘Black Lives Matter’ in video

The flag issue has been a thorny one for NASCAR. Former chairman Brian France in 2015 tried to ban the flying of Confederate flags at race tracks, angering many fans.

NASCAR did not address how it would enforce the policy or indicate any penalties for fans who violate it by bringing the Confederate flag to the track. NASCAR has not raced with fans since the sport resumed last month amid the pandemic and was expected to have minimal fans allowed at races this month in Florida and Georgia.

Confederate flags still fly high atop infield RVs and are waved by fans in the grandstands at most tracks. NASCAR has been more open in recent times to the eradication of the Confederate flag. Several drivers — including two-time Daytona 500 champion Denny Hamlin — said they supported Wallace in his quest to rid the sport of the flag.

The predominantly white field of drivers united over the weekend for a video promoting social change. A Black NASCAR official, Kirk Price, took a knee before Sunday’s race near Atlanta in what may have been a first for the series. Wallace wore a black T-shirt with the words “I Can’t Breathe” at the race.

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