A Nascar driver raced in a car that included a flag with a thin blue line and the slogan “Back the Blue” in an aim to show support for law enforcement, following another driver taking to the track with a “Black Lives Matter” car.
Kyle Weatherman debuted the Blue Lives Matter-themed vehicle at Dixie Vodka 400 over the weekend.
The race took place in Homestead, Florida.
Weatherman said in a statement before the race: “A lot going on in the world right now and I wanted to express that most first responders are good people. My uncle is a firefighter and he would do anything to help save lives.”
In a comment referencing backlash he received, the driver later added, “I absolutely I support the black men and women of this country and also support all first responders also.”
According to the Thin Blue Line group, which started promoting the American flag with a blue line running through it, the movement is meant to show support for law enforcement.
The blue line represents society, order, and peace while a black line represents crime, anarchy, and chaos, the group said.
Mike Harmon Racing, which runs Weatherman’s team, shared pictures of the car and said it was proud to release the paint scheme.
The racing company “supports our [law enforcement officers] and first respondents, we THANK YOU for your service, sacrifice, and dedication,” the team said in a social media statement.
“There’s been so much negative press and all in the last few months,” Harmon told WBRC, saying that people appreciate how law enforcement officers “lay their life on the line every day for us.”
“They needed a little appreciation and notoriety,” he added.
Nascar officials approved the paint scheme.
Darrell Wallace Jr., 26, NASCAR’s only black full-time driver, recently drove a car with a “Black Lives Matter” scheme.
“This statement that we have right here that we’re about to make—running this racecar, being on live television on Fox—I think it’s going to speak volumes for what I stand for but also what the initiative that NASCAR, the whole sport, is trying to push,” Wallace said in a video published by Richard Petty Motorsports, which he races for.
“It’s true—black lives do matter. It’s not that we’re saying no other lives matter, we’re trying to say that black lives matter too. If we put ‘too’ on the end, I think a lot more people would understand it,” he added. “We want to be treated equally and not judged off our skin color.”
Before a recent race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, NASCAR President Steve Phelps said in a message broadcast to drivers that, “Our country is in pain and people are justifiably angry, demanding to be heard.”
“The black community and all people of color have suffered in our country, and it has taken far too long for us to hear their demands for change. Our sport must do better. Our country must do better,” he added.