Fans of the "Dukes of Hazzard" television show remember the famous (or infamous) General Lee.About three years ago the NAACP was after NASCAR to ban Confederate flags from NASCAR events. Teams have not been able to use the symbols for some time, but banning flags by fans is a whole different matter. With many races run in the South the fans there still appreciate their Southern heritage and the flag to them is not a symbol of slavery.
However the iconic car won't be part of a planned pre-race ceremony at Phoenix International Raceway after NASCAR stepped in and tabled plans to include the General Lee due to the prominent placement of the Confederate flag on its roof.
Pro golfer Bubba Watson was to have driven the car in the ceremony to be held prior to the March 4 Sprint Cup race at PIR but NASCAR has decided to nix the idea.
"NASCAR, International Speedway Corp. and Phoenix International Raceway officials discussed this and decided it was not in the best interest of our sport," NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said Friday.
"The image of the Confederate flag is not something that should play an official role in our sport as we continue to reach out to new fans and make NASCAR more inclusive."
Watson, who has become friends with driver Denny Hamlin, had tweeted his intention to take part in the ceremony early Friday morning. However he rescinded the plan in a later tweet:
"Sorry to say @nascar won't let me drive The General Lee at the @PhoenixRaceway !!! #dreamcrushed"
I think banning the General Lee is just another bit of NASCAR P.R. panic. The car is an iconic symbol from an old TV show, not the official ride of the Ku Klux Klan.
Of course, if Danica Patrick shows up with the Stars-and-Bars, NASCAR will have a change of heart.