Association President Steve Phelps said that motorsport “needs to get better.”
Bubba Wallace donned a black t-shirt that read, “I can’t breathe,” and the NASCAR racing Association took a break before Sunday’s race at the Atlanta Speedway. The Association’s leadership promised to be more active in addressing racial injustice after the death of George Floyd.
In the middle of the warm-up races, 40 cars stopped in front of empty bleachers and turned off their engines, after which NASCAR President Steve Phelps delivered an address through their radio sets.
“Thank you for your time,” Phelps said. “Our country is in pain, and people are rightly angry, demanding to be heard. The black community and all non-white people are suffering in our country, and it has taken too long for us to hear their demands for change. Our sport should be better. Our country must also become better.”
A black NASCAR employee took a knee, mimicking the gesture that was first used in protest by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
All 40 crews were standing in front of their boxes.
“It’s time to listen, understand and speak out against racism and racial injustice,” Phelps said. “We ask our drivers and our fans to join us in this mission, to reflect for a moment, to recognize that we, as a sport, need to do better. Please join us now as we pause and try to listen for a moment.”
Wallace, the only African-American driver in the main NASCAR series, became the most prominent voice in motorsports to speak out after Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis led to mass protests in all 50 US States and around the world. The protesters demanded an end to police brutality against people of non-white skin color.