NASCAR has issued a statement on the civil unrest happening across the U.S. in the wake of the death of Minnesota man George Floyd that calls for unity in the fight against racism while referencing its own history with race.
“The NASCAR family like so many others is hurt and angered by the immensely troubling events that have taken place across our country in recent weeks. For us to heal and move forward as a nation, we all need to listen more and be united in the stand against racism, hatred and senseless violence and loss of life. And we must all hold ourselves accountable to driving positive change.
While our sport has made progress over the years, there remains much work to be done and we fully embrace our responsibility to help bridge the racial divide that continues to exist in our country. We must do better and our commitment to promoting equality and inclusion continues and will never waver,” the statement read.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in police custody on May 25 after Derek Chauvin, a white officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes in a moment caught on cellphone video.
NASCAR has only had eight African-American drivers compete in its top Cup Series, including Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, who currently drives for Richard Petty Motorsports. Wallace is a graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which was founded in 2004 to support the development of minority and female drivers. Another graduate, Kyle Larson, who is of Japanese-American heritage, was recently suspended from the series for using the N-word during an online simulation race.
After the deadly Charleston church shooting in 2015, NASCAR stated its position that the use of the Confederate flag symbol is not allowed in “any official capacity." But it did not ban fans from displaying it at races, leaving it up to the individual tracks to decide their own policies.
Several current and former NASCAR drivers, including Wallace and Mexican driver Daniel Suarez, have issued messages of support for peaceful protests in recent days.