Okay, so full transparency, the friend is me and the answer is debatable.
I grew up watching NASCAR. I can’t imagine my life without it actually.
Weird I know, especially coming from a Latina woman, but it’s true. NASCAR was on TV every Sunday in my house, from February through November.
My dad loves cars and everything that has to do with cars, and NASCAR is his favorite sport. He watches it religiously and attends NASCAR races almost yearly, sometimes even driving to Vegas to watch the race there.
My dad is one of a handful of Mexican-American men who I have ever heard openly enjoys NASCAR.
I mean, we can all acknowledge that the NASCAR fan base is pretty specific, right?
Growing up I didn’t think about it much, but as I got older, I began to educate myself I started to hold my own thoughts and opinions on the sport.
Last year, I attended my first race, that I can remember. I’m pretty sure I went when I was younger but I have no memory it.
My dad would probably say it was the best day ever. My entire family was present for the event, we woke up early, tailgated, had mimosas and beer, and enjoyed the race as a family. Parents, kids, significant others, and grandkids. I think it was my dad’s dream come true.
Full disclosure, it was March 17th, and I had gone to a St. Patrick’s Day party the night before and there is 99% chance I fell asleep during the actual race itself…
What I do remember though, is feeling extremely out of place. The fan base of NASCAR is very specific, and besides my big-ass Mexican family, I could count the number of people of color that I saw at the race on my two hands.
While there were plenty of American Flags flying proudly everywhere, there were also plenty of Confederate Flags as well.
Although NASCAR has always been a part of my life, as I got older I held my own opinions of the sport and its predominantly-white fan base.
To be completely open and honest, I was often scared for my dad and brothers when they would go to the races.
NASCAR, in my opinion, was never a sport that was marketed for or openly embraced people of color.
My dad is the proudest American I know, but he also has an accent.
I mean, just recently a NASCAR driver was fired for using racist language during a NASCAR livestream event.
NASCAR events are full of heavy drinking, like most sporting events, but I was always scared of the what-if. My dad loves NASCAR so much, I never wanted him to be treated wrong or experience any discrimination at an event.
But it was always a concern in the back of my mind. Thankfully, nothing has ever happened, that I am aware of.
This past week, NASCAR shocked me with one tweet.
I was shocked. I was not shocked by the replies to this announcement…
People are pissed. I’m still trying to figure out why?
I truly never thought I would see the day that NASCAR would make such a bold statement.
Is it way over due? Yes. Do they still have a long way to go? Yes.
But as someone who grew up watching NASCAR, I am here for the change and I am hoping they truly mean it.
Who knows, change might even bring NASCAR some new fans.