By: Ashley McCubbin
On Monday when the sport felt one of their own was being threatened, drivers and crew members stood together behind that individual. Even though thankfully it was not a threat, the message does not change.
The pre-race ceremonies in watching the drivers push Bubba Wallace’s car to the front of the grid, followed by sharing hugs with him, and standing together for a photo an then the national anthem was a sign of what is happening currently. While having at times been known for some racial instances, NASCAR is working at leaving that behind.
Unity, together, and ready to do what it takes to make that happen is what they displayed on Monday. By standing as a group in solidity together, they are showing they are behind the message as one, to end racism and divides that are within the sport. It’s showcases the same way through as sharing the video message together that they were willing to listen and learn.
Many people will try to diminish or take away from the moment because the reason it happened was not truly the case as originally believed. However, the sentiment and feeling in watching the NASCAR family come together still remains there. We will do whatever we can for each other, backing each other, protecting each other, and hope to come together as a sport at the end without racism being something that is allowed.
As Aric Almirola said it after the race, “I think as competitors we all want to beat each other, but as human beings we all want to show love and support for each other.”
Or as race winner Ryan Blaney said, “You may not like each other all the time. May tick each other off on the racetrack from time to time. At the end of the day we’re going to support each other.”
So do not allow them to take away the images and video of what happened on Monday. Instead, be thankful that indeed someone in the garage area did not hang the noose purposely, and be grateful that we can come together and unite as one.
So how did it happen?
The idea came about through the driver’s group text chat that they have with Jimmie Johnson stating he wanted to stand with Wallace during the national anthem, and welcomed others to join him. Quickly, drivers stated they would, and then crew members followed. That was when a new idea needed to developed in how to go about it, with Kevin Harvick ultimately suggesting the idea to push the No. 43 to the front of the grid and stand around it together.
“I think after seeing some of the photos the first rain delay, I noticed the magnitude and impact of what we did as a group today,” Johnson said post-race yesterday. “When we all gathered at the racecar, not everyone responds in that chat, so I knew that a lot of drivers wanted to come, but I didn’t know how well-attended it would be.
“I also knew that teams wanted to show their support, as well. Until we started walking and I could see every driver there, looked back and saw each team jump off the wall and fall in line. Then to go back to the rain delay, first thing I did was looked at the phone and saw the photos. To see how many people were on pit road showing their support for Bubba, that warmed me up tremendously.”
For Blaney, his part in being in the group and sharing the hug with Wallace was simple – he wanted to be there to support his best friend.
“I feel like what everyone has said the last day has really shown that it’s not going to be tolerable any more. We’re all going to stand behind the people who are mistreated. That just shows what a family we are,” he commented. “We’re competitors all on the racetrack, but at the end of the day we’re one big traveling family. We’re going to support anybody who we compete with. If they get threatened in a way, we’re going to have their back.
“I just want everyone to know we’re all in this together and we support everybody. I thought it was a really great thing we did that happened at the beginning of the race. I hope people remember that. It shows we’re all one big family and we’re going to support each other no matter what.”