NASCAR drivers have been told to leave their personal politics off the track — or risk losing their jobs.
Several NASCAR team owners made it clear over the weekend that protests of any kind during the national anthem would not be tolerated at events, deviating from the stance other professional sports leagues and owners have taken on the controversial issue, USA TODAY reported.
Meanwhile, such protests permeated the football world, as more than 200 NFL players and team owners took a knee, locked arms in solidarity, raised a fist or flat out refused to leave the locker room during the anthem in response to comments from President Donald Trump. The protest, first carried out by former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a stand against racism and police brutality, took off after Trump suggested that NFL owners fire the “sons of b-tches” who kneel during the anthem.
NASCAR owners agreed, taking a firm stance against the practice.
“Anybody that don’t stand up for that ought to be out of the country. Period,” team owner and retired driver Richard Petty said at the ISM Connect 300 in New Hampshire. “If they don’t appreciate where they’re at … what got them where they’re at? The United States.”
Petty also threatened to fire anyone who refused to stand for the anthem.
Richard Childress, another NASCAR team owner said, such a demonstration would earn one of his employees “a ride on the Greyhound bus when the national anthem is over.”
“I told them anyone who works for me should respect the country we live in,” Childress said. “So many people have gave their lives for it. This is America.”
While he doesn’t particularly agree with protesting during the anthem, Andy Murstein, majority owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, said he wouldn’t fire an employee standing up (or kneeling) for what they believe. Instead, he would have a talk with them.
“I would sit down with them and say it’s the wrong thing to do that [take a kneel], and many people, including myself, view it as an affront to our great country,” Murstein told ESPN. “If there is disenchantment towards the President or a few bad law enforcement officers, don’t have it cross over to all that is still good and right about our country.”
Racing legend Dale Earnhardt, Jr. disagreed with team owners’ threats to fire drivers who protested, however. In a tweet Monday, Sept. 25, Earnhardt voiced his support for the right of all Americans to engage in peaceful protests, summing it up with a quote by John F. Kennedy.
All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable-JFK
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) September 25, 2017
Meanwhile, Trump doubled down on his comments from the weekend and praised NASCAR owners for cracking down on the protests.
So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans. They won't put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag – they said it loud and clear!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017