NASCAR has banned the Confederate flag from its races and venues, formally severing itself from what many believe is a symbol of slavery and racism.
The move comes amid social unrest around the globe following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis while being detained by police.
Protests continue across the country with Confederate monuments being taken down across the South – the traditional fan base for NASCAR.
Confederate flags have been a familiar sight at races over the sport’s 72-year history however, the stock car series with its roots in moonshine running has in recent years taken cautious steps to sever the connection.
The issue came to a head this week as Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s lone black driver, called for the banishment of the Confederate flag and said there was “no place” for them in the sport.
“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,” a statement 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.”
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The move was announced before Wednesday night’s race at Martinsville Speedway where Wallace, from Alabama, was driving Richard Petty Motorsports’ No43 Chevrolet with a #BlackLivesMatter paint job.
The driver was praised for his stance on Twitter from several athletes, including NBA star LeBron James, and for using the slogan during the race.
Wallace said before the race: “It’s been a stressful couple of weeks.
“This is no doubt the biggest race of my career tonight. I’m excited about tonight. There’s a lot of emotions on the race track.”
BIG S/O @BubbaWallace!! 🤜🏻🤛🏾👑 https://t.co/0zIlidbQOi
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 10, 2020
Wallace wore a black “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt but did not kneel during the national anthem.
NASCAR has not said how it would enforce the policy or what might happen for fans who bring the Confederate flag to the track.
While no fans have attended since racing resumed last month, it has announced plans to welcome a small number back at upcoming events in Florida and Georgia.