Pizza, Cars, and Confederate Flags

Tickets and passes from the Bank of America 500 NASCAR race held at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October 2017.
Bank of America 500 tickets and passes from 2017.

Are you are wondering how pizza, cars, and confederate flags go together? Read how these three thing aligned within my world one day in 2017.

A Finalist

On Thursday, October 5, 2017, I got a voicemail that I could not believe! The follow-up email stated:

You entered into our contest to win an all-new Toyota Camry last month and you have been chosen as a finalist!
You are one of three finalists who have the opportunity to win the car. The final part of the contest will happen this Sunday, 10/8, at Charlotte Motor Speedway before the Bank of America race.

Digital Strategy for Papa John’s of the Carolinas

Can you imagine? I did enter the contest. I used promotional code PAPAWHEELS when I ordered a $9.99 Papa John’s pizza. That’s it! I had some doubts about the whole thing, but I was assured that someone would leave a winner. With a 1 out of 3 chance of winning, I could not resist confirming my intentions to make the two hour drive. My family was invited, and win or lose, it was a new experience for everyone.

Pre-race Show Excitement

We were up and out early Sunday morning in order to make it to the track by 9:45am. Our VIP treatment started with a golf cart meeting us in the parking lot and driving us to the infield. The Pre-race show was already going strong. Fans were everywhere! Giveaways, celebrity NASCAR guests, all going on as the Papa John’s team prepared the three finalist for the contest.

The time came for our part of the show. The hosts moved from the main stage to the stage featuring a 2018 Toyota Camry and started introducing the contest and the finalists. They called me Margaret Brown. My name is not Margaret Brown. I immediately wondered if that “slip up” was a reference to my Brown skin, but then my thoughts were right back to winning my car – I was claiming it!

The contest was simple. A trunk full of single pizza boxes with a few of them colored gold. The finalists takes turn finding a gold one until they find one with a code. The code in the box matches a code on a key. If your key starts the car, you win. And guess who won!

The 2018 Toyota Camry SE in Galactic Aqua won from Papa John’s of the Carolinas at the Bank of America 500

Pizza, Cars, and Confederate Flags

We had a great time at our first NASCAR events! After the rock climbing wall, bouncing obstacle course, and some lunch, we headed to the grandstand to watch some of the race. Like a bunch of amateurs, we sat in the first row as if they were the most sought after seats. But when those cars came around, we realized that they were NOT popular seats for a real good reason. I did learn something priceless though. My youngest son, who was diagnosed with Autism months earlier, seemed to be soothed by the noise or vibrations.

It was such a fun outing and an amazing experience. Although, all the confederate flags in the infield were very distracting to me.

Photos displaying confederate flags at the Bank of America 500
Confederate flags at NASCAR race in North Carolina.

Had I paid attention to NASCAR, and its history, these flags would have not caught me of guard. However, seeing the flags did trigger a subconscious knowledge of such relationship.

The confederate flag once was as much a part of the NASCAR landscape as the green, yellow and checkered.

Confederate emblems decorated race souvenir programs, and a man dressed as a rebel soldier was a regular in victory lane celebrations at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.

NASCAR fans: Confederate flag still important symbol
USA TODAY

Remove the “Offensive Symbol”?

Formal NASCAR chairman, Brian France, eventually called for, but did not require, the removal of the “offensive symbol” in 2015. Some tracks even offering to exchange the controversial flag with an American flag. France, grandson of NASCAR co-founder Bill France Sr., later went on to endorse Trump in 2016, proclaiming:

If the people that like and watch NASCAR vote for Donald Trump, they can cancel the election right now. Nobody else can win. Nobody.

NASCAR fans: Confederate flag still important symbol
USA TODAY

He also went on to plead guilty for DUI after an 2018 DUI and possession of Oxycodone (a controlled substance) arrest. Jim France, uncle to Brian France and son of Bill France Sr., is the new NASCAR Chairman and CEO. Will ideas about the confederate flag, and its role within NASCAR, change under his leadership? I don’t know, but I do know that Trump is the Grand Marshall of this week’s Dayton 500.

A Not Mad. Motivated. Point of View

There you have it! This is how pizza, cars and confederate flags have intersected in my life. Being called Margaret Brown in this environment was a bit frustrating. However, I used the car that I won to help start Not Mad. Motivated.!

Seeing those flags caused all sort of feelings, but outside of my own family’s enjoyment, I saw something else that made me extremely happy! Another Black family! What made this family special is not that they were Black; it is that they were being themselves.

It was before the race and a NASCAR driver was being driven through the crowd. The dad urged the son, who was dressed down in NASCAR appeal, to get an autograph. With the son’s hesitation, the dad grabbed the son’s hat, ran aside the golf cart next to the NASCAR driver, and got the autograph that he knew his son desired. The son displayed an undeniable reaction of a true fan!

Don’t get me wrong, I did not experience any hatred from any person that I interacted with that day. Everyone was actually very pleasant and welcoming. It was just those flags and beliefs that they symbolize to me and to many.

We have ‘symbols’ that can trigger the worst of our feelings and behaviors, but we win when we find the motivation to thrive beyond those negative feelings. We would love your help in spreading the Not Mad. Motivated. mindset! Let’s turn failures into fuel, obstacles into opportunities, and mistreatment into movements! Shop Not Mad. Motivated.