NASCAR Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Mailbox: Why Does NASCAR Need to be More Inclusive?

More times than not, people can’t help but say whatever is on their mind.

From President Donald Trump to NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, it’s been a whirlwind of a week in the stock car racing realm. For better or for worse — however you want to look at it is up to you — NASCAR made national headlines this week. Their name came across dozens of mainstream publications because of comments made by these two individuals, along with others.

As NASCAR continues to do a fantastic job at branding itself around a diversity campaign, statements like the ones made this past weekend bring all those efforts to a crashing halt. Ultimately, it is up to the sanctioning body to promote itself as if it’s 2017, rather than pretending it’s the early days of NASCAR in 1957.

Filtering comments are a must, especially in a time when the two main owners who spoke out Sunday — Petty and Richard Childress — are facing uncertain futures with sponsorship woes simultaneously hitting both teams. OK, maybe they’ll land a stereotypical sponsor for sticking up for Trump (like Petty already did after announcing last week the addition of Grunt Style, featuring self-proclaimed “patriotic apparel”). But they won’t do well when it comes to landing major Fortune 500 corporations, many of which are furious with the president as of late.

Have a question for NASCAR Mailbox? Tweet me at @JosephNASCAR or shoot me an email at Joseph.Wolkin@gmail.com! 

Q: After several team owners had controversial comments this weekend, why does NASCAR need to be more inclusive? – Mitchell R., Charlotte

A: Being inclusive and preaching this practice is something NASCAR has been pushing for several years. Until this past weekend, it was doing quite well, helping drivers and crew members break into its ranks by using marketing campaigns to prove NASCAR isn’t a stereotypical southern sport anymore.

NASCAR isn’t what it used to be. Marketing rules the sport in 2017, whether people like it or not.

Sure, the talent of drivers remains a key factor in getting a ride. But let’s face it, that isn’t the deciding factor anymore. Instead, it’s how much money one team can bring to the table.

That’s important when considering where the sport goes from here, no matter how you feel about the anthem controversy. Here’s the problem: This past weekend, you had two legendary owners from the south speak against the First Amendment right of peaceful protesting. However, they don’t speak for the majority of people involved in the sport, and their comments should not be a reflection on NASCAR as a whole.

The comments made by the two owners are not only going against a constitutional right, but they automatically showed a major divide in NASCAR’s political spectrum.

On one hand, you have a young, diverse group of fans increasingly interested in the sport. On the other, you have an elder, stereotypical fan base who still bring Confederate flags to the racetrack. It’s quite the conundrum.

Owners who say they’ll fire someone for kneeling during the national anthem, like Petty loudly proclaimed, or will force someone “to take a Greyhound back to Charlotte,” according to Childress, are absolutely absurd. The First Amendment is in place for a reason, and that is to protect the opinions of American civilians. Of course, most businesses do have conduct standards for employees, including things they can and can’t say or do on the job.

Want to protest during the national anthem in support of equality? Fine. Let people assume what they want, but you need to do what you feel is right in your heart. It’s the same situation when it comes to those proudly raising a flag that still causes trauma for African Americans who decide to attend a NASCAR race.

Does it make sense to do these things? Yes? No? Maybe? I don’t know, because I personally wouldn’t do either of them.

But sports have always been political. Just look at the Olympics — it’s a time for nationalism and pure pride.

NASCAR prides itself on being a purely American sport. That’s fine and dandy, but it all goes away when a team owner decides to stand against a peaceful protest (that, by the way, hasn’t happened yet at a NASCAR race) for equality, something still lacking in their own sport.

The comments by Petty are absolutely dumbfounding, especially considering his team, led by major owner Andrew Murstein, just lost a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal with Smithfield Foods, who is heading to Stewart-Haas Racing.

For the second time in three weeks, Petty just couldn’t keep his mouth shut. The No. 43 car is a ride Darrell Wallace Jr. would love to have but sponsors might have been scared away in a heartbeat. He fully disregarded counter-comments made by Murstein, the co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports.

Now, if a sponsor comes along to partner with Wallace, they might opt to go to another team, one that is willing to be inclusive and show pride in being an organization that is inclusive and, more importantly, loves equality.

We’re all equal, each and every one of us. If two NASCAR owners can’t realize that, it is time for the rest of the sport to speak against them. It’s time to showcase that being inclusive, just like NASCAR wants to be, is vital in a battle for survival.

Q: What does Tyler Reddick’s win mean as he prepares to move to JR Motorsports? – Mike L., Miami

A: This is a massive victory for not only Reddick but Chip Ganassi Racing’s XFINITY Series program as a whole. For Reddick to drive smoothly and methodically through the top five Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway, it proved why Brad Keselowski Racing, now Ganassi and next, Dale Earnhardt Jr. have invested in him.

Reddick was known to be quite the aggressive driver in the Camping World Truck Series. His consistency spoke for itself, having an average finish of 6.3 in 2015, his first full-time season.

The transition to the XFINITY Series, however, had been difficult. The additional horsepower and steeper competition proved to be a challenge, albeit one Reddick expected. But to tame his peers and come out on top in only his 15th start is quite the power move, mere days after announcing he’ll be full-time with JR Motorsports in 2018.

For Reddick, this win means the world to him. The youngster now has the confidence he can get the job done like the Truck Series. The only race up until this past weekend he showed even the slightest signs of XFINITY brilliance came in June at Iowa Speedway, where he finished third.

In what has been a very similar season to his CGR counterpart Brennan Poole’s first part-time XFINITY Series shot, Reddick just proved he has what it takes to not only run up front, but to dominate a race. In Poole’s first year, he earned a pair of top 10s. Reddick had a top five and a pair of 10th-place finishes on his resume up until Kentucky.

As Reddick moves forward, he needs to use this win as a marketing boost. He will now begin building a brand as he looks to eventually make his way to NASCAR’s premier division, a step he discussed in recent weeks could eventually happen if the right pieces fall into place.

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John W

I sure wish that the NHL would be more inclusive. It’s so terrible that they only allow Russians and Canadians to play. No doubt there are many blacks and latinos wanting to join the ranks but are just being left out in the cold due to the evil NHL establishment. Diversity is the be all end all. We must have it.

Chuck

What about petty’s and Childress first amendment right to free speech?

Russ

They certainly have the right to free speech. Problem is sponsors aren’t obligated to spend their money with people whose positions they oppose.

Steve

And Petty and Childress are free to fire employees who hurt their business as well.

Not sure where everyone thinks this is about free speech and I don’t hear anyone saying they can’t exercise their free speech (on either side frankly). Players aren’t going to be arrested for taking a knee before a football game, but the team who is paying your paycheck has every right to fire you for doing it if they feel its hurting their business.

This whole thing, just like “Hands Up Don’t Shoot”, is all based on a lie. I blame the media on both sides more than anything. They profit off of dividing people, especially the controversial topics like race. If they didn’t fan the flames, there wouldn’t be so much divisiveness in this country.

Russ

Steve, but Petty and Childress need the sponsors – the sponsors don’t need them. So who has the winning position?

Jeff M.

Good to see OPINION columns are still alive on frontstretch.com. ! Not as good as they used to be but alive nonetheless. JMO of course!

Biff Baynehouse

Facts check:
– RPM has employed former D4D driver Aric “the Cuban Missile” Almirola for the better part of the last decade.
– RPM has employed former D4D driver Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. for several races this season.
– RPM’s Cup over-the-wall crew is remarkable diversity, perhaps the most diverse in the category.
So, I take exception to your racist division here Mr. Joe. You seem un-American to me. Mr. Petty, nor Mr. Childress, made no mention about being anti-diverse, as you fictitiously claim. Considering their sponsorship woes, even I would not claim it was smart public stance to take, but it’s their 1st amendment right to take that stance, & it’s their companies, whose destinies they control, & live & die by.
So, how is your company doing, & who are you to judge?

Al Torney

Why people write this BS is beyond me. Employers can demand certain behavior out of their employees. Plain and simple.

Would you go to you boss and tell him there’s a protest today at 10 am and I’ll be leaving work to participate and I’ll be back afterwards and you can’t dock me because it’s my right to do this. Or I’m going to exercise my religious right to stop work today and pray for a little while. Yeah, right. You don’t do what the boss says it’s called insubordination and is a reason for dismissal. That’s the way it is.

The fact that morons assume that The two Richards are speaking for NASCAR and the NASCAR nation is typical of many in this country.

Just like profiling. Oh it’s wrong. But these same SOBS that spout that BS are the same ones who say folks who display the Confederate flag are racists.

Everybody has rights, but many only want to respect the rights that agree with their perception of these rights.

Damn near every person, black, white or green, that has been shot by a police officer has broken the law and failed to listen to that officer. They asked for it and they got it. The six officers in the Freddie Grey case in Baltimore were proven not goulty of any wrong doing. He had been arrested 18 times over the years. He was a known drug lord dealer. How many lives did he destroy with drugs? They named a recreation center after him. What a role model. Now tell me that destroying part of a city was those idiots right to demonstrate. Cops do their jobs. They’re human. Until you’ve faced a person pointing a weapon at you don’t tell me how you expect me to react. Furthermore statistics show that African-Americans commit more crime then any other race. So isn’t it common sense that they will be involved with the police more then others?o

In Baltimore black on black murders are out of control. Why are these NFL players doing to curd this problem? Why aren’t they protesting this?

kb

I find it interesting that a sponsor would even consider not to back a team based on the true statements that PETTY AND CHILDRESS stated. What a world we live in today that what those two said are perceived as inflammatory, racist and whatever. The truth is the enemy and love of country is too. Respect is a problem it seems. Siding with these idiots who do not have facts or truth behind their statements and actions, whatever the cause du jour is this week is bad for their business. They won’t get my money!

Also the perception about cops shooting blacks at a higher rate is patently false. Stats are out there to disprove this incendiary belief, but it promotes an agenda with the lemmings so it must be a fact. SMH.

Love how these “social justice” warriors think creating a hastag or “kneeing” is doing there part to fix whatever the imagined ill is. Nobody seems to be putting their money or time into oh ..lets say Chicago. Black on black crime is in a crisis mode. Never a word about that however, it does not fit into the narrative of big old nasty racist whites, who are the sole cause of America’s ills. “Race” is a racket, and profitable one. IMO.

yourmother

First of all, I don’t think Mitchell R. exists or emailed you that bogus question. You made it up so you could pen this idiotic screed.

Second, what did you mean by “southern sport,” “owners from the south,” and “elderly stereotypical fan?” If you have something to say, let your balls drop and say it.

The bigot here is yourself.

paltex

nascar is thriving? Get used to the marketing? I don’t care for the marketing I used to care about an entertaining race. You marketing types have RUINED the sport. Look at the empty seats, look at the declining television stats.
Us old types that used to watch and attend races have gone. Evidently our money was not green enough for the new marketing programs.
Found something else to do on Sundays, keeping my unwanted money.

Steven

I won’t be reading anything with your name on it anymore. You are on the wrong side of the fence.

Mike S.

The first amendment projects citizens from government interference with freedom of speech, not private entities like NFL or NASCAR teams. They can set their own rules (i.e. you cannot protest on company time or you will be fired).

Richard Stevenson

Let me “help” you out Skippy since you are a “journalist” and that automatically means you do NOT understand settled LAW. The SCOTUS has already RULED that companies(EMPLOYER) have a LEGAL right to enforce their RULES of Conduct and may FIRE an EMPLOYEE for ANY violation of it. Happens every day in the REAL world.

Petty/Childress can fire ANY employee for ANY reason as NC is a right to work state.

NFL teams are in violation of Section A62 of the NFL RULES book that states ALL teams shall be on the field during national anthem, standing at attention with helmet in left hand. NFL “selectively” enforces the rules and YOU and I both know the reason. The rule says you can be fined, suspended and/or lose draft choices for violation of anthem rules.

They stopped Dallas from honoring five police officer who were assassinated, honoring 9/11 victims on their shoes but allowed Krapneck to wear Cops are Pigs socks. See the disparity here.

Didn’t think so.

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