A local Virginia racetrack under fire for banning all flags from its infield last Thursday has now pulled a U-turn and lifted the rule.
Track ownership had claimed the ban was instituted to ensure a clear view of racing action for fans, and had nothing to do with the American flag itself. But some drivers and track employees felt it was an assault on Old Glory, and eight employees quit their jobs over the controversy.
“I apologize to all of you and take full responsibility for the entire stage of events that took place,” said speedway general manager Brink Nelms in a statement.
“I am saddened from the fact that I have been called unpatriotic. This could not be further from the truth. I have family members that are American veterans just like any other American family may have. I was born and raised in America just like any other American. Under my management of the raceway, God is honored with prayer, our country is honored with the national anthem and the American flag is displayed seven days a week. I love America and I try to be the best person that I can possibly be each day.”
Infield flags no longer banned at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va. (courtesy Langley Speedway)
Nelms is still requesting that flags on the infield be flown in lower positions as a courtesy to fans in the stands, but stresses there’s no longer a rule about it.
“That’s the way it should’ve been handled on Thursday,” said Bryan Bowyer, Langley’s former chief steward and race director who is among those who quit in disgust. “I’m still resigned, I have no intention of going back.”
Bowyer told WorldNetDaily he’s been flooded with reaction since taking a stand over the ban.
“All the calls have been 100 percent supportive,” he said.
Bowyer told WND last week he believes there was another reason for the blanket proscription on infield flags.
He says he was told by a track employee close to track owner Dwight Schaubach that Schaubach had been offended by someone flying a Confederate flag in the infield, and thus decided to preclude banners of all kinds.
“That is absolutely incorrect,” Schaubach responded to the allegation.
Nelms, meanwhile, has been taking plenty of heat since the ban became publicized.
“I think you had plenty of time to resolve this issue,” writes racing enthusiast Bud Carteret on the RaceRap.com website. “I have no beef with you personally but you stepped on my flag – how dare you!”
In his written announcement about the ban, Nelms said, “I have been asked if I would do the same thing again. The American flag means the same thing to me on July 10th that it does on July 4th, but I think the next time I would wait until July 10th.”