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NASCAR and #BlackLivesMatter, 1 Year Later: Part 3

The following story is based on an email interview with a 23-year-old Black female NASCAR fan who wishes to only be identified by her first name, Bria.

Before 2020, Bria wasn’t aware of having an active aversion to NASCAR.

“It’s like when you ask a kid, ‘How do you know you don’t like something if you’ve never tried it?'” she says. “I guess I had the reasoning, ‘Well, I know I don’t like the Confederate flag ….’ and it was always something I correlated with the sport. Also, watching cars turn laps for hours never appeased me.”

Bria works for a state government in the South. She has an identical twin sister and an older brother, 32.

Her parents have been married for almost 34 years. Her dad is retired, and her mom is nearing retirement.

“We have zero history of following NASCAR,” Bria makes clear (emphasis her own).

But she can pinpoint “the exact date, estimated time and location” her aversion began to dissipate.

It was Wednesday, June 10, 2020. Around 5:45 p.m. CT, she was in her room at home. CNN was “randomly” on TV.

She looked at the screen, where a graphic displayed the breaking news that NASCAR had banned the Confederate flag at all its facilities.

See also
NASCAR and #BlackLivesMatter, 1 Year Later: Part 1

Two days earlier, Bubba Wallace had went on Don Lemon’s CNN show and requested that NASCAR ban the flag.

“I was intrigued,” Bria recalled, “so I ended up searching what channel the race was on and watched a bit of the prerace stuff. I ended up missing Martinsville [Speedway], but I did go and look up race highlights later that night … and looking up rules because I had zero clues on what I was watching.”

The sport’s arrival in her orbit came at a significant moment for Bria.

“Summer 2020 was a rough period for me. It wasn’t just the [COVID-19] pandemic, but also being a Black person, to be blunt,” Bria said. “Banning that flag and seeing a ‘Black Lives Matter’ car in a sport with a predominantly White fan base for some reason gave me an optimistic outlook on how things were going (I by no means believed those two actions would make everything right in the sport or the world. But it leads to a start of something more).

“It is a feeling I can’t explain. I think it was more of the fact I needed something to lean on, to be excited for, to keep me going. Because, to be honest, times got dark for me at a certain point. I just needed something, and that ‘something’ happened to be NASCAR.”

Her attempt at becoming a fan was a “journey,” filled with receiving tweets and direct messages attacking her support of the sport and Wallace.

“It got to a point when I wanted to give up on the sport,” Bria says. “It was as if that mindset I always had of NASCAR fans being ‘proud Confederate Southerners’ was true.

“I’m happy I didn’t give up because Twitter showed me that wasn’t true. I’ve come to know a few people who’ve been NASCAR fans their whole life and are nothing like that. It’s only those folks who choose not to accept change who are the problem. After some time, I’ve learned to stop entertaining them.”

As someone who was once turned off to the prospect of watching racecars “turn laps for hours,” Bria has become fond of one certain area of the sport.

“Strategy! I’ve learned a lot over the last year (I still am). Listening to scanners and people explain why things happen has helped me appreciate the sport more and more,” Bria said. “Like how no two tracks are the same. Some tracks you may be able to last until the checkered on older tries, like Dover [International Speedway]. But Phoenix [Raceway], you’ll fade to the back if everyone has new tries.”

See also
NASCAR and #BlackLivesMatter, 1 Year Later: Part 2

It’s not just a Sunday activity for Bria.

She tries to watch the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series when it airs. She didn’t miss an episode of the I AM ATHLETE series on NASCAR that was released last month, and she occasionally listens to the Dale Jr. Download.

“As a new fan, I learned a lot about the drivers and the sport from those interviews,” Bria said.

She plans “to start reading Winning in Reverse by Bill Lester (if I can ever find the physical book in stores).”

(Update, June 14: Shortly after this story was published, Lester got in contact with Bria and sent her a copy of his book)

See also
Bill Lester Discusses Truck Series Return, NASCAR's Steps Toward Inclusion

Bria observed from what she’s seen that the I AM ATHLETE series helped to have a tangible effect on perceptions of NASCAR for some members of the Black community.

“I see comments (on the show’s YouTube page) that say they’ll start to give NASCAR a chance because they see the drivers in a different setting with athletes/personalities they are familiar with,” Bria said. “The thoughts they had about the sport previously [have] maybe changed a bit.”

She also noted a recent partnership between NASCAR and Historically Black Colleges and Universities for NASCAR Heat events.

“I really do think if NASCAR doesn’t get complacent and keeps up with what they are doing now, it can only get better,” Bria said.

She has yet to attend a NASCAR race in person, but Bria hopes to change that later this year with a visit to Talladega Superspeedway in the fall.

“The atmosphere is what I am looking forward to,” Bria says. “I’ve been told it [is] a different feeling watching a race in person than it is at home. I am a huge football fan, so hearing that I know I have to go. It seems loud on television, but I am sure it’s even louder in the grandstands. Also meeting a couple of people is an absolute plus!”

This story is the third in a five-part series that looks back at the events of the summer of 2020 and examines their impact on NASCAR a year later.

Frontstretch will bring you the stories of four Black NASCAR fans who came to the sport as a result of these historic events and what their experience has been in the ensuing 12 months. It will conclude on Friday, June 11, with a look at NASCAR’s efforts to build on the foundation laid in 2020.

Part four will be published Thursday, June 10.

Read Part 1 here

Read Part 2 here

Read Part 4 here

Read Part 5 here

Read Part 6 here

and check out and subscribe his show “Dropping The Hammer with Daniel McFadin” on YouTube and in podcast form.

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WJW Motorsports

Not sure about the rest of you – but I for one am breathlessly awaiting parts 4-7.

Bill B

Aaaawwww. I was hoping there would be one every day for the rest of the year. What a disappointment.

Mike

FS has some nerve posting this on Coral Triangle Day. And more offensively the posted part 2 on World Oceans Day. Guess they don’t give a !@#$ about the oceans or coral.

WE SHALL OVERCOME!!!!

Jo

So you think the Proud Boys, QAnon and the KKK are going to overcome the massive prejudice against your skinny white butt, old man?

Mike

What color is the sky in your world, jo jo? Why the hell aren’t you concerned about coral? Does it bother you that Nemo, Martin, & Dory are in grave danger from chicom plastic circling in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

BTW, I’m not skinny. I’m not white. And, I’m not old. Very good lesson in exposing prejudice.

Jo

OK, you’re a fat orange guy with a sagging butt. And DEFINITELY OLD or you wouldn’t be on this site. But you ARE a liar and a bigot, that much is obvious. And worse, yet, you’re proud of it!

I’m more concerned about the environment than you are. That’s just a phony stance you took up to try (unsuccessfully) to make a point. You probably throw your beer cans right off your boat along with their plastic rings.

jdquick

The more you post, just proves his point.

jo_riley918

That might be true if Mike had a point.

Mike

Damn girl –that’s some cognitive dissonance ya got goin’ on. Checks all kinds of DSM boxes –delusions wrapped in moral relativism, childish, boorish, crude, prejudicial, projections. Ya got it all babe.

Fat ‘n orange with a saggy butt: Garfield, Winnie the Pooh, or Fred Flintstone? Thanks for the chuckle jo jo.

jo_riley918

So which of the above are you? What is your reason for being in favor of police murdering Black people? Or your reason for opposing Bubba Wallace getting a chance in NASCAR? Please explain, Mr. Earth Guy! And what exactly are you trying to “overcome”?

jo_riley918

Mike, I noticed the other day you were celebrating what you called “nation jelly doughnut day.” Do you just check what the “national day” is every day to use in prefacing your irrelevant comments?

And yes, dear, you are very white!

Carl D.

Blither-to-the-Blather

jdquick

Wow, that was a wasted 5 minute read that I will never get back. Yea, and I just love BLM, you know their Marxist dogma, their need to destroy the nuclear family and bring this country down by any means. Guess the writer hasn’t even done any cursory research on BLM or doesn’t care. Remind me not to bother to click on the other parts of this ongoing masterpiece.

Echo

Will bubba’s father be in part four ! Suspense is killing me.

DoninAjax

Why didn’t this start on June 1st. Then it could have been 30 articles..

Echo

lolololol

Echo

Is Larson racing Knoxville Fri and Saturday night !

JER

Thought this was a RACING website, but in the comment section, I see words such as fat, skinny, butt, white, old, bigot, orange and sagging. I find it hard to apply this terminology to auto racing. Sounds more like something preceding a street brawl. Usually such disagreements are best settled “Behind A Woodshed” and not behind a keyboard on a comment section of a RACING website.

Echo

Yep, I too wonder why we have this 5 part soap opera on here. I can’t wait to read how it ends.

TiminPayson

NASCARS new diversity program. Drop out of school, car jack some one, ignore police response.

David Edwards

I have tried to be silent, but. None of those things you mentioned give anyone,including the police , the right to kill someone.
But nascar and the sponsors it’s trying to cultivate can’t afford to ignore 15 percent of the population.

Paul

So an article about someone who supports a terrorist organization (BTW, BLM also backs other terrorist organizations like Hamas) is supposed to go over well?

Didn’t think that was the kind of audience here.

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