Can I be up front with you guys for a second?
How many of you are parents to biracial children? I am. My oldest, Meredith, is Mexican-American. You may have seen her in some of my photos on social media. Maybe you’ve read the article I wrote about her trip to Texas Motor Speedway last year. Maybe not, but hey, that’s beside the point.
For those of you who have seen her, did you notice anything that would set her apart from any other child you know; anything about her build, makeup, anything at all? Surely not. She’s just like every other 11-year-old out there in that she loves talking to her friends, playing Roblox, and takes forever and a day in cleaning up her room. There’s nothing that differentiates her from any other child or any other individual out there.
So when I go on social media to find that Daniel Suarez, one of NASCAR’s most popular and genial drivers, is getting assaulted for his Mexican heritage and roots, needless to say, I take that personally. He’s won in NASCAR, both races and championships. He’s proven his worth by scoring top finishes on a variety of race tracks. He’s earned the respect of his peers and fans, including your favorite driver. Yet somehow, that’s not enough for some folks.
No, they want to disparage him because he’s brown. They want to disparage him because English isn’t his primary language. They want to disparage him because he was born in Monterrey, Mexico. It angers the bigots, the narrow-minded racists, because they can’t seem to let go of the fact that, in their mind,” he’s not one of us.”
No. No way. There’s no way a mindset like that gets to win in this sport. NASCAR has evolved in a great way from the days when a black man named Wendell Scott was almost robbed of his first career win. Has anyone checked the genetic makeup of the race day crowd lately? There’s black fans, white fans, Asian fans, German fans. and more. Last year when Meredith and I were at TMS we were sandwiched in a line between a British family and a Japanese family.
Let’s dig deeper. I hate mixing politics and religion with sports but despite NASCAR being stereotyped as a “white, Christian, conservative sport,” it’s surprising the number of fans you can meet on a race weekend that not only have a different skin color but a different religion as well as different political beliefs. They are liberal, conservative, black, white, brown, Muslim, Christian, and Atheist. These numbers are growing because NASCAR is a sport for everybody. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from. It doesn’t matter what your race, nationality, creed, gender or sexual preference is. This is a sport that is lightyears more evolved from what it once was all those years ago for the betterment of all involved.
It’s a sport where the minority role now belongs to the ignorant who call themselves “fans” but who are now outdated, antiquated, and who truly do not belong. This isn’t a matter of political correctness, persecution or whatever label they want to call it. The idea that a Mexican driver doesn’t deserve the same respect as Kyle Larson or Bubba Wallace should not have any credibility at all. This is a viewpoint that has no grounds, no validity and no place in the sport.
This is still a NASCAR article, though, so let me reel off some racing stats. Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Coca-Cola 600 is going on at the end of May during Memorial Day Weekend. In regard to Suarez, Charlotte has been kind to him. In a combined eight starts across NASCAR’s top three national touring divisions he has four top-10s at the track including a pair of top-fives in XFINITY competition.
Why bring up Charlotte when there’s Kansas to worry about? Well, although Suarez could just as easily take a trip to Victory Lane at Kansas, he knows his way around Charlotte well. From a race fan’s point of view, that’s just stating facts based off of results. But from the point of view of an angry father who has had to calm his little girl because she was afraid after a peer at school told her she was going to be deported once upon a time? Well, in that case, there’s something about a Mexican driver winning with a Japanese-based manufacturer on a day we celebrate those who sacrificed all for the freedoms we have today, that makes me wish the detractors of race, the ignorant of color and talent, would just eat salt. The Coca-Cola 600 is notorious for first-time and surprise winners, although if Suarez did, in fact, win it wouldn’t be much of a surprise.
There’s no room in the sport for those kinds of people and for that kind of talk. There’s room for anyone and everyone from all walks of life. Come one, come all, and let’s enjoy the sport. But there is no room for hatred and bigotry. There is room for driver rivalry and fandom, even for disliking a driver because they’re rivals with your favorite driver. But to hate and discredit a driver because of their color? Well, to quote A Tribe Called Quest, “Take that garbage to St. Elsewhere.”