W. MI native: NASCAR’s Confederate flag ban ‘long overdue’

MARNE, Mich. (WOOD) — In a stunning step towards change, NASCAR announced this week it will ban the Confederate flag at all its events.

Jeff Striegle, a West Michigan native who calls NASCAR races for the Motor Racing Network, welcomed the change.

“NASCAR hears its fans,” Striegle said. “I think it’s long overdue, but I’m ready to embrace it.”

NASCAR first addressed the issue in 2015 in the weeks after Dylann Roof killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina. After pictures hit the web of the gunman posing with the Confederate flag, NASCAR asked its fans to stop bringing it to races.

Following the death of George Floyd, the league banned the flags. Their decision earned applause from Bubba Wallace, the only black driver in the league’s top series. Wallace showed his support this week by racing in his Black Lives Matter-themed car.

“Now it’s taken the circumstances that we’re living through today to bring it back to the forefront and shine a light on it,” Striegle said.

Not everyone is on board. Truck series driver Ray Ciccarelli said he will quit at the end of the season because of the league’s choice.

He expressed his frustration on Facebook writing in part, “I could care less about the confederate flag but there are ppl that do and it doesn’t make them a racist.”

Despite some opposition, Striegle said an overwhelming majority of fans support the ban.

“There’s a lot of fans that do support it, far more than don’t,” Striegle said.

He says the league shows itself to be a part of the solution to ending racism.