A Tale of Caution at Talladega

The weekend began with such promise. A lot of racing at one of NASCARs biggest and fastest tracks. More fans were allowed in although still a very small group considering how many are regularly squeezed in there. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, evidently a lot can go wrong.

This isn’t a condemnation of NASCAR or any driver or team member. It’s more a warning about the rush to judgement and a true commentary on the state of the nation.

By now we all know about the circumstances surrounding the noose that was found in the stall of Bubba Wallace. Few of us truly know the facts of the case though. And when we are provided the few facts we are given, many have rushed to judgement of NASCAR, Bubba Wallace and others caught up in this unfortunate controversy. That rush to judgement is one of the things NASCAR is being lambasted for, yet so many people in social media have taken to hiding behind their keyboards and done the same durn thing.

First of all, none of know all the facts unless we happen to work for NASCAR or the Petty team and even then, the circle is pretty tight.

We do know that the reported noose has been there since last fall and that it has been reported by the FBI and NASCAR as not a hate crime. And I don’t care what kind of knot the Boy Scouts and rope tying experts among us think we see in that dark photo, but to me it sure looks like what I would generally call a hangman’s noose. I don’t care what kind of knot it at the top of the loop.

And evidently, many people on social media have that same kind of rope tied to their garage door. I don’t nor have I ever see a garage door of any kind with that a loop in it, especially with that kind of appearance. It is dangerous if you have any kids around and frankly, I don’t see the need for it. But Facebook is going nuts with people who have that kind of looped rope or claim to have seen one all over the country. OK, sure. Let’s just say that is true and I am the outlier.

This was also not a case of fake news, a scam or some other trumped up event to get Bubba or NASCAR more press. NASCAR doesn’t need this kind of press. The nation’s view of NASCAR as a redneck, southern sport that glorifies racial inequality doesn’t need reinforcing. The good people all around Talladega did that themselves this weekend. NASCAR doesn’t need their help.

Many of us are aware that Bubba Wallace gets hate mail because he is black and because he supports removing the confederate flag from the tracks that NASCAR visits. Many others are not aware of that fact. Very few of us know what it is like to journey in another person’s shoes no matter what we think. Just ask Mike and Angie Skinner. Least of all, we should think we know what it is like to journey through life as a person of color. I don’t care how “woke” you think you are, you don’t know. End of story.

Where NASACR can be criticized, in my opinion, is in their own rush to judgement before releasing this information to the public. I get it. This is a very sensitive time in America. No one, OK very few, want to be seen as the insensitive a-hole when it comes to racial issues.  The FBI was already at the track this weekend because of the potential for racial hate crimes and violence. That should tell you something about the state of the nation we are in. And agitators didn’t disappoint us, showing confederate flags and negativity towards fellow Americans who just happen to be of color or even support people of color.

In fairness, NASCAR should have known that this rope was in the garage for some time. Maybe they did. Maybe the person who reported the “noose” should have known. One would think that if this was commonplace in the garage area, it would have been quickly shut down. No one knows who tied the rope into that configuration or what was in their mind when they did it. Perhaps it was innocent, perhaps not. But for the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume it was innocent or at worst, a poor joke.

In my opinion, and I don’t have all the facts either, just what NASCAR has put out, this could have been handled much more discreetly until all the facts were in.

Bubba Wallace was a mere pawn in this game. He did not see the reported noose as drivers were not allowed in the area. He was simply reacting to what NASCAR told him. That goes for all the owners, sponsors, teams and drivers. The show of support for Bubba was awesome, it brought many to tears. Remember how great that felt? It should still feel that way even in spite of how this turned out.

So instead of rushing to judgement and claiming fake news (it wasn’t, it was a real event) and saying nasty things about Bubba Wallace, how about remembering that special feel good moment. How about realizing that in this polarizing time, what we say and do as individuals is important. Do we speak in anger, hate, disillusionment or do we speak in terms of love, kindness, understanding?

Let’s be real for a minute. I read a post in social media where the person was angry at NASCAR, claimed Bubba had disrespected NASCAR and even went as far as to be mad that there were only fans of color who were cheering Bubba through the fence the end of the race. Really? Your complaint is about how many people of color were cheering on Bubba and you didn’t see a white face?

You can be angry or disappointed in NASCAR officials or Steve Phelps specifically, but leave Bubba Wallace out of the equation. He did nothing wrong. Let’s remember the show of support by the teams for Bubba and Petty Motorsports and how awesome that was. Let’s hope that no person has to face hate because of the color of his skin. Let’s show everyone how great NASCAR fans can be. Be mad at NASCAR PR if you want to, but let’s be thankful that this wasn’t a noose aimed at Bubba Wallace. That’s a very good outcome that is being lost in the yelling on social media.

And by the way, the racing was very good. In the ARCA race, it was a rush to the checkers when Michael Self got turned 90 degrees and was being pushed forward by Herbst. If you haven’t seen that yet, you need to go to the ARCA site and see it. He somehow spins out of that and gets her going straight again. Herbst finishes 4th and Self 5th.

Ryan Blaney had a fast car all day and battled Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola and Eric Jones down to the wire with Blaney coming out on top by .007 seconds. Almirola crossed the strip backwards and Jones was banging the wall the last few hundred feet. A tight race and thrilling finish without The Big One happening.

The Pocono double header is this weekend, enjoy the racing!  Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

(featured image courtesy of NASCAR Media)

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