Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Nascar's Race Problem

Nascar is one of America's most popular sports enterprises. But does Nascar have a serious race problem? Many of us have suspected for years that it does. This article from Portfolio.com sheds some more light on the issue:

Nascar's Race Problem

"With growth stalled, a multibillion-dollar sports business looks to diversity for a jump start. But some Fortune 500 would-be sponsors fear that supporting minority drivers could set off a rebel yell.

Marc Davis was doing what Nascar drivers do all the time—getting even.

With 10 laps to go in a tight 200-lap race at Hickory Motor Speedway, Davis, then 16 years old, was fighting hard for the win when a rival tapped his rear bumper and sped around him as he tried to recover. On the next lap, Davis repaid the favor by thumping his competitor and causing him to spin out. Both ended up at the back of the pack. For the drivers, this was no big deal. Retaliation is part of the sideshow that gives Nascar its edge. But this episode had an extra element: Davis is black, and his rival, also a teenager, was white.

And Hickory, 50 miles northwest of Charlotte, North Carolina, is Nascar bedrock, America’s oldest continuously operating motor speedway and the hallowed minor-league track where such legends as Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty cut their teeth. It attracts a hardcore following, an overwhelmingly white crowd that was perfectly happy when Nascar was just a backwater redneck sport. So though Davis had already proved his Nascar mettle by winning six races at Hickory that year, his tangling with a white driver caused an uproar among about a hundred fans, who stormed a fence surrounding the track, some of them chanting, “Go home, nigger!” Several were ejected from the stands..."

Full article here.

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