NASCAR cools on Confederate flag, but fans still fly it

Thu Jul 2, 2015 8:43pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Barbara Liston

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - NASCAR wants to limit the Confederate battle flag's presence at its tracks after the murder of nine black worshippers in South Carolina, but getting U.S. motor racing fans to comply may prove difficult.

On the eve of a big holiday race weekend in Daytona Beach, David Childress was among those who ignored the call and packed a t-shirt festooned with the Civil War-era flag for his trip to the world-famous Florida racetrack.

"I don't think you're supposed to cherish it, but don't forget it," said Childress, 61, from Mississippi, who said he owns six Confederate flags.

The June 17 killings at a Charleston bible-study group have prompted politicians and businesses to try to banish the flag, widely viewed as a symbol of slavery, after photos of the white man charged in the shooting showed him posing with it.

NASCAR and track owner Daytona International 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.

Instead, race organizer and owner NASCAR and its 30 affiliated tracks on Thursday asked fans not to bring the flags to races.

"This is an opportunity for NASCAR Nation to demonstrate its sense of mutual respect and acceptance for all who attend our events," it said.

For fans who ignore the request, NASCAR is offering to exchange Confederate flags for the stars and stripes to honor U.S. Independence Day at Daytona Beach.   Continued...

David Childress, 61, a retired fan from Pascagoula, Mississippi, wears an unofficial Talladega racetrack shirt bearing the Confederate flag, while attending the NASCAR race in Daytona, Florida July 2, 2015.  REUTERS/Barbara Liston