Since then, NASCAR has traveled removed from its roots, which have been planted in dust tracks in locations like Rockingham, N.C., and Talladega, Ala., by drivers who honed their expertise by working moonshine and outrunning revenuers. The races as soon as have been predominantly within the Southeast, and its drivers hailed from the area. Now, NASCAR races are held on tracks from coast to coast, and solely two of the highest 10 drivers are from the Southeast.
Kyle Petty, the longtime racer and son of the seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty, referred to as the ban “a huge moment.”
“As we look at the sport and how the sport has grown, we were way behind the curve,” he stated on the present “NASCAR America” on NBCSN.
And NASCAR’s current efforts to develop, whereas additionally attempting to make the game extra inclusive, haven’t been profitable: The variety of followers who’ve deserted the game since its peak is startling. For instance, this 12 months’s Daytona 500, NASCAR’s marquee race, had 7.three million tv viewers. Just 5 years in the past, in 2015, that quantity was practically double, at 13.four million.
The group additionally has made efforts to diversify, with packages geared toward hiring minority drivers. Yet when Wallace gained a race in 2013 at considered one of NASCAR’s nationwide collection, it was the primary time an African-American had gained at that degree in 50 years.
Matthew Bernthal, the advertising division chair at Florida Southern College, has studied NASCAR, and stated the group has grappled with the flag situation for some time. “I simply don’t think they had a choice right now but to ban the flag, given the mood of the country,” he stated. “But I think the brand’s values have shifted because they have chosen to take such a strong stance.”
With the coronavirus public well being disaster limiting followers at racetracks, it is likely to be a protracted whereas earlier than NASCAR feels the complete influence of its resolution. But Darrell Waltrip, the three-time Winston Cup collection champion who retired in 2000, warned folks to not view complaints concerning the ban on social media as a sign that followers will go away the game.