Bubba Wallace, the one African-American driving inside the NASCAR Cup Series, used a #BlackLivesMatter livery on his Richard Petty Motorsport Chevrolet for that race at Martinsville Speedway on Wednesday.
Wallace, wearing an American flag mask, clapped his hands when asked about the decision before the start of the race.
“It’s been a stressful several weeks,” Wallace said within an interview. “This is not any doubt the biggest race of my career tonight. I’m anxious about tonight. There’s a great deal of emotions in the race track.”
Wallace wore a black “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt – that were George Floyd’s last words to officers restraining him – but failed to kneel throughout the national anthem.
His Chevy had “Compassion, Love, Understanding” emblazoned about the hood.
In a video posted on Richard Petty Motorsports’ Twitter account earlier, Wallace had said, “I think it’s going to speak volumes for what I stand for, but also what the initiative that NASCAR, the whole sport, is trying to push.”
In front of the race, NASCAR outlawed the display on the confederate flag at its events. The flag has been a common and sophisticated sight at NASCAR races. Through the entire civil rights era right on via the season opener at Daytona in February, the flag dotted infield campsites and was waved in grandstands by fans old and young.
Floyd, a black man, died May 25 right after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck while Floyd was handcuffed and saying that he couldn’t breathe. His death sparked protests who have roiled the world for several days, and Confederate monuments will be taken down all over the South – the typical fan base for NASCAR.
The choice had Confederate flag loyalists howling in protest and vowing to swear off the sport.
Fans have not been allowed back at races yet amid the coronavirus pandemic. It won’t be long: NASCAR intends to welcome a small amount of fans with a race Sunday near Miami and even more later this month in Alabama.
NASCAR has received a checkered history with race but it took another blow when driver Kyle Larson was fired in April after he uttered a racial slur after a live-streamed virtual race.