Kyle Weatherman debuted a new paint scheme for his car on Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, one that was sure to have rubbed some fans the wrong way.
The Xfinity Series driver raced with a new “ThinBlueLine” design, complete with a “Blue Lives Matter” flag across the hood. That flag, and movement, has emerged in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement in recent years as a way to support police officers.
Mike Harmon Racing, his team, said the design is to support law enforcement officers and first responders. The design, however, doesn’t reference firefighters, EMTs or other first responders on it anywhere.
The move came just days after Bubba Wallace, the sports’ only black driver, ran a Black Lives matter paint scheme. NASCAR banned the use of Confederate flags at races this week, too, in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody and the massive protests that have followed ever since.
The “#BackTheBlue” car doesn’t explicitly say Blue Lives Matter on it, nor did his team say it was a direct response to Wallace’s car, but that connection is an easy one to make.
The Blue Lives Matter movement came shortly after the Black Lives Matter movement took hold in recent years as a way to support law enforcement, however many have found it extremely offensive given what the Black Lives Matter movement is trying to accomplish. Protestors have been fighting non-stop since Floyd’s death and video of his arrest went viral — which showed a white Minneapolis police officer with his knee in the back of Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes while he yelled out, “I can’t breathe.” His death has sparked massive protests and a much larger conversation about both race and police brutality in the country.
Weatherman tweeted that his inspiration for the design came from his uncle, who was a firefighter, and insisted that he supports “the black men and women of this country.”
This isn’t the first time the racing crew has run a controversial paint design. They ran a Trump-Pence 2020 car at the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in February, too.
While Weatherman may say that his design is just to support first responders, it’s hard to believe that’s entirely the case given his timing.
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