Friday, February 17, 2012
NASCAR Shows The General Lee and Bubba Waston The Door - The Reason The Confederate Flag
In one of those pure bone headed moves that big corporations tend to make when they have too much time on their hands, NASCAR has banned the Confederate Battle Flag from it's Avondale Arizona Speedway and canceled a scheduled appearance by PGA Tour Professional Golfer Bubba Watson along with his newly acquired Dukes of Hazard car, affectionately known as the "General Lee".
Watson says he will still be in attendance for the March race but his car and the Confederate Flag image is officially off the program.
"NASCAR, International Speedway Corp. and Phoenix International Raceway officials, discussed this and decided it was not in the best interest of our sport," NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said Friday.
"The image of the Confederate flag is not something that should play an official role in our sport as we continue to reach out to new fans and make NASCAR more inclusive."
Phoenix International Raceway officials planned to release a formal statement about the decision later today.
On Tuesday Phoenix new media staff tweeted:
"@PhoenixRaceway @bubbawatson Hey Bubba! We look forward to having you and the General Lee at PIR in a few weeks! #SUBWAY500"
But by Thursday, Watson posted the following message on his Twitter account:
"Sorry to say @nascar won't let me drive The General Lee at the @PhoenixRaceway !!! #dreamcrushed"
Professional Golfer Bubba Watson and His Car "The General Lee"
News releases about Watson's appearance at the track had already been removed from the track's Web site by Friday morning it remains to be seen if Watson's role as a honary NASCAR race official will continue.
Of course NASCAR's roots are covered with Confederate Flags and 1000's of fans show up at every track wearing, waving and displaying the flags every year.
While NASCAR needs a more diverse fan base to grow, burning bridges, or in this case flags is not going to help the bottom line in the near term. NASCAR would do well to brace for a sizable push back from fans and Southerners in general.
NASCAR's official position has been for some time not to endorse, promote or display the image of the flag that some see as supporting the Jim Crow era and racial intolerance.
But NASCAR objects to the paint scheme, while they permit the same flags to fly in the infield.
But this move goes beyond where NASCAR has stood on the matter of the Confederate Flag in the past. Most people see the General Lee for what it is, a car from a crazy TV show and a bad movie of the same name and nothing more.
Expect this story to go global and NASCAR to re-think its PR gaff in short order.
For the record the flag is more correctly referred to as the flag of the Army of Northern Virgina.
NASCAR might just have their hands full trying to ban the Orange 1969 Dodge Charger as there are at least 24 General Lee car known to be rolling around the country.
The television series used more than 300 of the 1969 Dodge Chargers, most ended up in the scrap heap after preforming some of the hundred or more jumps for the show.
Below the 1968 Southern 500 final laps, as Cale Yarborough wins at Darlington. In the final three minutes of the video The Wood Brothers Mercury rolls into the winner's circle with as you would expect the flag, but it was nothing more than the statement that this race is the Southern 500.