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NASCAR drivers drop helmet designer for flag comments

(Reuters) - NASCAR’s decision to ban the Confederate flag from all its tracks and races continued to rumble through the sport on Thursday with several drivers dropping helmet designer Beam Designs after the company expressed opposition to the ban.

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Bubba Wallace, the only African-American competing in NASCAR’s top Cup series, and Jimmie Johnson, a seven-times NASCAR Cup series champion, were among drivers who said they would no long be doing business with Beam Designs.

Wallace, who used a #BlackLivesMatter livery on his Richard Petty Motorsport Chevrolet for a race at Martinsville Speedway on Wednesday, called out Beam Designs for a lack understanding labelling the company’s response to the ban as “#garbage”.

“Nah homie, as person I’ve done business with in the past and ALWAYS respected the work you’ve done for ones in the industry. You made it clear of where you stand in today’s matter. All respect lost for ya dawg. #garbage,” tweeted Wallace.

Johnson, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano were all much more direct in ending their business relationship.

“In light of some inappropriate tweets, I will no longer use the services of Beam Designs,” tweeted Johnson.

NASCAR’s move on Wednesday to ban the Confederate flag, which many Americans see as a symbol of oppression and slavery, was widely applauded, but Beam Designs disagreed with the decision.

“The Confederate Flag, North vs South in the Civil War, a war over separation of the Union, not slavery. But hey ignorance wins again, NASCAR you realize the North had slaves too, lol not just the South, you want to remove the American Flag as well, idiots,” tweeted @BEAMdesigns.

Ray Ciccarelli, who competes in NASCAR’s Truck Series, was so unhappy about the decision that he announced that he would stop racing after the 2020 season.

“Well its been a fun ride and a dream come true but if this is the direction Nascar is headed we will not participate after 2020 season is over, i don’t believe in kneeling during Anthem nor taken ppl right to fly what ever flag they love,” wrote Ciccarelli on Facebook.

Over four seasons on the truck circuit, the 50-year-old driver had competed in 18 races with one top-10 finish.

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond

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