NASCAR banned the display of the Confederate battle flag at its events in June. Twice now, a group has responded by having a plane tow the flag over a track.
The latest incident took place Wednesday prior to the All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. A small plane was seen above the track grounds towing a flag; attached to the flag was a banner displaying the letters “SCV.org,” which refers to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The organization’s headquarters are in Columbia, Tenn.
SCV was also behind a flag being flown over Talladega Superspeedway in June shortly after NASCAR announced the ban. That time, the flag was accompanied by a call to “Defund NASCAR,” a tweak of calls to “Defund the police.” That weekend, the flag was displayed outside track grounds as well.
In both instances, NASCAR allowed fans in the stands for the race. NASCAR has raced in mostly empty venues since returning from its COVID-19 suspension.
On Wednesday, the flag was on display under a vendor’s tent outside the track.
NASCAR was criticized for decades for not taking action to stop displays of the Confederate flag, which has been derided as a racist symbol. The organization finally made the move after Bubba Wallace, the Cup Series’ lone Black driver, called this year for it to be banned from tracks. The decision was also made amid nationwide protests against the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis.
The Talladega race weekend was also when a noose was seen attached to Wallace’s garage stall. The FBI was called in to investigate a possible hate crime; investigators determined the rope had been there since at least last October and that it was not used to target Wallace. Before that determination was announced, however, NASCAR drivers and teams organized a prerace demonstration in support of Wallace.