NASCAR, a motorsports organization that oversees professional stock car racing in the United States, announced a partnership with the Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce last week.
A tweet announcing the partnership was accompanied by a picture of the phrase “I am NASCAR,” with the company’s logo emblazoned in the rainbow colors that have come to symbolize LGBT advocacy.
In a statement, NASCAR announced that the Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce will be its “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion partner for the 2022 term.”
“NASCAR is excited to partner with the Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce,” said Brandon Thompson, NASCAR’s vice president of diversity and inclusion. “With NASCAR offices and much of our industry based in the Carolinas, we look forward to working with CLGBTCC in support of its mission to foster equity, inclusion and economic prosperity for the LGBTQ+ community.”
Tiffany Keaton, the vice-chair of the Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce, shared Thompson’s enthusiasm for the partnership. She praised NASCAR for its “rich history in our region.”
Describing NASCAR as “one of the most popular sports in the nation,” Keaton predicted that “the intentionality of their partnership will allow the Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce to leverage relationships and increase our work in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion.”
“The distinct brand that NASCAR brings to the chamber validates their commitment to equality and non-discrimination both on and off the track,” she added. “It is an honor to name the league our ‘DE&I Partner’ for 2022, and I look forward to developing this amazing relationship.”
The Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce describes itself as “an organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and LGBT+ and allied businesses, corporations and professionals throughout western North Carolina and most of South Carolina” with a mission to “foster equity, inclusion and economic prosperity for the LGBTQ community through strategic policy, professional enrichment, ally partnerships and economic development.”
NASCAR has been seen in the past as less likely to embrace liberal political causes than other major sports leagues.
As recently as 2016, Faith Driven Consumer, which seeks to provide Christians with “information resources for making more faith-conscious consumer decisions” and encourage “companies to meet the unique needs of Christians,” suggested that practicing Christians should tune into NASCAR as opposed to NFL football.
Faith Driven Consumer determined that NASCAR better represented and embraced the values of Christian consumers and employers than the NFL. In 2016, NASCAR received a score of 50, while the NFL received a score of 24.
On a scale of zero to 100, the Faith Equality Index measures a company’s “public commitment to faith driven consumers,” “faith-compatible corporate actions,” “equal application of corporate protections” and “corporate competency in the faith driven consumer market segment.”
In December, NASCAR donated money to the Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce to be used to conduct diversity, equity and inclusion seminars at businesses around North and South Carolina in 2022, WFAE reported.
NASCAR’s partnership with Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce comes after NASCAR President Steve Phelps told reporters last year that the organization does “not want to associate ourselves with politics, the left or the right.”
Phelps’ comments came after he was asked about the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” at this year’s “State of the Sport” event.
The phrase became a code for an expletive-laced directive at President Joe Biden after an NBC Sports reporter insisted that NASCAR fans chanting “F*** Joe Biden” were cheering on NASCAR driver Brandon Brown, whom she interviewed after his victory in Talladega, Alabama. For his part, Brown appeared to sympathize with those who shouted the vulgar chant in a Newsweek op-ed.
“I understand that millions of people are struggling right now and are frustrated,” he wrote. “Struggling to get by and struggling to build a solid life for themselves and their families, and wondering why their government only seems to make it worse. People have a right to frustration – even anger.”
While NASCAR maintains that it has no desire to associate with politics, it allowed African American driver Bubba Wallace to drive a “Black Lives Matter” car at a race shortly after the death of unarmed African American George Floyd in May 2020. NASCAR’s Twitter account appeared to promote the movement, declaring that Wallace would “run a special paint scheme to honor #BlackLivesMatter.” The Black Lives Matter movement is a political organization that has received criticism for its denunciation of the nuclear family, explicitly highlighting a desire to “disrupt” the “western-prescribed” practice. After receiving pushback, the group’s statement opposing the nuclear family was eliminated from its website’s “What we believe” section.