A small plane flew a Confederate flag over the Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday as thousands of fans gathered to watch NASCAR’s All-Star Race in Tennessee.
It comes a month after NASCAR announced the Confederate flag would be prohibited from all official events in response to the worldwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd.
Critics of the Confederate symbol say it’s racist and represents a war to uphold slavery and a battle to oppose civil rights advances.
The banner also included a URL for the ‘Sons of Confederate Veterans’ website — the organization responsible for flying a similar flag over a race in Talladega, Alabama, last month.
The race on Wednesday was also the sport’s largest spectator event since the pandemic struck in March, with organizers allowed to sell up to 30,000 tickets.
The race was moved from its regular home in Charlotte Motor Speedway because North Carolina would not allow spectators.
A spokesperson for the track in Tennessee told CNN that no tickets were sold on race day in order to ensure the track could properly adhere to social distancing measures.
It was mandatory for fans to wear a mask upon entrance but people were free to take them off once they had reached their seats.
Reports state the stadium has a capacity of about 140,000 people but the day’s official attendance will not be released due to corporate policy.
Those in attendance were able to roar home eventual winner Chase Elliott, who claimed the $1 million prize.
In doing so, he emulated his father, Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, who won the race in 1986.
After the win on Wednesday, Elliott praised the inclusion of fans and said there was “no feeling like it.”
It comes after NASCAR and the FBI launched an investigation when a crew member discovered what appeared to be a noose in the garage of Bubba Wallace at the Talladega Superspeedway last month.
The FBI report found that the item was a “garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose,” and said that it had been in the team garage since last year and Wallace, therefore, was not a victim of a hate crime.
Wallace, the only Black driver in NASCAR’s top circuit, has been a vocal advocate of the Black Lives Matter movement and has called for the end of Confederate symbols at races.