NASCAR released a statement of support today for South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s call to remove the Confederate flag from the state capitol this summer. NASCAR, surprisingly, has long had a ban in place against the flag on anything officially related to the racing series.

NASCAR is viewed by many to be as Southern as deviled eggs and sweet tea, and with races in South Carolina as well as many race teams based in the South, the recent shooting in Charleston hit close to home. The sanctioning body’s statement reads:

As we continue to mourn the tragic loss of life last week in Charleston, we join our nation’s embrace of those impacted. NASCAR supports the position that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley took on the Confederate Flag on Monday. As our industry works collectively to ensure that all fans are welcome at our races, NASCAR will continue our long-standing policy to disallow the use of the Confederate Flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity. While NASCAR recognizes that freedom of expression is an inherent right of all citizens, we will continue to strive for an inclusive environment at our events.

This isn’t the first time NASCAR has made a statement against the controversial flag. In 2012, the motorsport sanctioning body received criticism from fans and stars of the show Dukes of Hazzard for banning the “General Lee” 1969 Dodge Charger from participating in a race weekend’s activities. In addition to being named for a Confederate general, the General Lee sports a huge Condederate battle flag on its roof. According to Fox Sports, the famous television car was prevented from participating in a parade lap at a March NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Phoeniz, Ariz., that year.

“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,” read NASCAR spokesman David Higdon’s statement in 2012, as quoted by Fox Sports.

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NASCAR is not changing its policy at this time, but rather reiterating their stance on the issue and expressing sympathy for lives lost. Fans are still allowed to fly the flag, however, the push to make the sport more welcoming to all fans continues on.

Photo credit: AP


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