DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Despite requests from NASCAR and track officials and drivers, fans gearing up for this week's race in Daytona Beach are flying the Confederate flag.
The Confederate flag became more of a hot topic in the wake of a mass killing last month at a South Carolina church, where a man is accused of shooting and killing nine parishioners at a black church.
Every track that hosts a NASCAR national series race asked its fans on Thursday to refrain from displaying the Confederate flag at its events. In a statement signed by International Speedway Corp., Speedway Motorsports Inc. and 30 tracks, the facilities promised to have "welcoming environments in all of sports and entertainment."
NASCAR Chairman Brian France has called the flag a symbol that he personally finds offensive and said he wants to be as aggressive as possible in barring it from sanctioned events.
"It's an absolute shame that it's come to this," a NASCAR fan said. "We should be able to fly it if we want to."
Daytona International Speedway said it is holding a voluntary flag exchange program this weekend in which fans can swap any flag of their choice for an American flag. But several fans at Daytona International Speedway said they saw no proof of that.
"They didn't even ask. (They) looked in our camper but didn't even ask," a fan told Local 6. "If they are changing it out, then they should have asked at the beginning and said, 'Do you want to change this out?' I would have refused it anyway."
Many race fans think the swap exchange -- if enacted -- will backfire.
"(Fans) will go out and try and get more flags to put up," the fan said. "The flea market opens in the morning. We are going straight there to buy a flag and a flagpole."
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