None of the NASCAR drivers, crew members, or other parts of the teams took a knee or otherwise protested during the national anthem after harsh warnings were issued by NASCAR owners at the start of the NASCAR Cup Series, which began on Sunday. Multiple team owners and executives announced they didn’t want anyone participating in the protests, threatening termination.
As reported by the Daily Mail, several NASCAR team owners and various managers informed drivers, member of the crew, and other employees that anyone who took part in protesting in the national anthem might be fired for their actions.
Richard Childress, Dale Earnhardt’s team owner, stated that taking part would “get you a ride on a Greyhound bus.”
He went on to say, “Anybody that works for me should respect the country we live in. So many people gave their lives for it. This is America.”
Richard Petty, a Hall of Fame former NASCAR driver also commented, saying, “Anybody that don’t stand up for the anthem oughta be out of the country. Period.”
Petty, 80, added, “What got’em where they’re at? The United States.”
He also confirmed that anyone with Richard Petty Motorsports who took part in a protest would likely be fired.
The comments from NASCAR owners and other personnel were issued as other professional sports, particularly the NFL and NBA, see players choosing not to stand for the national anthem as a form of protest. Initially, they were focused on drawing attention to social injustice issues, like police violence against African Americans, or against President Donald Trump.
Trump issued a comment on the NFL protest last week, saying “That’s a total disrespect of everything we stand for.”
He went on to say, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired.’”
Upon hearing word about NASCAR owner’s positions on the issue, Trump released a tweet saying, “So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans. They won’t put up with disrespecting out Country or our Flag – they said it loud and clear!”
Last Sunday, nearly 130 NFL players kneeled, linked arms, or simply did not come onto the field during the national anthem. Players with the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars took a knee during the national anthem at a game played at Wembley Stadium in London, though did not protest during the British national anthem, which also played.
NASCAR drivers have only taken part in standing for the national anthem for the past 20 years as, before that time, they were already strapped into their vehicles in preparation for the upcoming race.