Daytona global Speedway said it is holding a voluntary flag exchange program this weekend in which fans can swap any flag of their choice for an American flag.
NASCAR and track owner Daytona worldwide Speedway Corp. have not banned the flag at the track where it remains popular among motor racing’s strongly southern, White and conservative fan base. But several fans at Daytona worldwide Speedway said they saw no proof of that.
“Chevrolet has been an integral part of the ISC (International Speedway Corporation) family for many years and we look forward to continuing our strong relationship”, said ISC Chief Executive Officer Lesa France Kennedy.
Reaction from race fans has been mixed.
“We are committed to providing a welcoming atmosphere free of offensive symbols”, the NASCAR statement read.
On Friday, as he celebrated his 78th birthday at Daytona, Richard Petty said he doesn’t see what all the fuss is about regarding the Confederate flag controversy.
Stephen Dittmore, a sports public relations expert and professor at the University of Arkansas said Thursday that NASCAR faces the challenge of weighing its fans’ concerns with those of the sport’s sponsors and media partners. In the short term, in light of the tide of opposition to the Confederate flag after the Charleston shootings, there’s the offer of a civil exchange of one antiquated, divisive symbol for the one being honored on July 4th. “We should be able to fly it if we want to”.
George Silverman, vice president of regional and touring series for NASCAR, and Kevin Navalainen, who oversees the Whelen All-American Series, of which Motordrome is a part, told the track owners that if they wanted to try to restrict the flags from their tracks “they would support us”. “I already have an American flag, so I would want to keep both”.
France said he was unsure what steps track promoters can legally take to prohibit the flag and acknowledged that enforcing a ban would be challenging when it comes to tens of thousands of fans on the sprawling properties.
At most NASCAR races, it’s usually the checkered flag that spectators like to keep their eyes on.
For once, I think this is more than mindless corporate piggybacking on a social trend. The massive, new and redesigned entry includes over 20,000 square feet of Chevrolet new vehicle displays and a fan engagement experience that vertically spans four concourse levels.