The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) based in Columbia, Tennessee, has taken responsibility for the flag flyover. The group’s leader, Commander-in-Chief Paul C. Gramling Jr., said NASCAR’s banning of the flag was “un-American,” and that it trampled on “First Amendment rights of free expression” for Southerners.
“NASCAR’s banning the display of the Confederate battle flag by its fans is nothing less than trampling upon Southerners’ First Amendment Right of free expression,” Gramling said in the Columbia Daily Herald.
“This un-American act shall not go unchallenged. [On Sunday], members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ Confederate Air Force displayed its disapproval of NASCAR’s trampling upon the First Amendment Rights of Southerners,” Gramling continued. “During and before the start of the NASCAR race in Talladega, Alabama, race, our plane flew a banner announcing a drive to ‘Defund NASCAR.’
“It is the hope of the Sons of Confederate Veterans that NASCAR fans will be allowed the fundamental American right of displaying pride in their family and heritage. The Sons of Confederate Veterans is proud of the diversity of the Confederate military and our modern Southland. We believe NASCAR’s slandering of our Southern heritage only further divides our nation. The Sons of Confederate Veterans will continue to defend not only our right but the Right of all Americans to celebrate their heritage. We trust NASCAR will do the same.”
There were signs outside the entrances of the Talladega track that stated the Confederate flag was prohibited, and NASCAR officials pretended to ignore the flyover.
Gramling said private donors from his group helped pay for the plane and banners that soared above the speedway, and he said the SCV doesn’t care what NASCAR thought of their stunt.
“What NASCAR did was a slap in the face to fans who made the sport what it is,” Gramling said. “They don’t know how upset they’ve made people with this decision. I really don’t care what NASCAR thinks about what we did. It’s the least of my concerns.”
Gramling said everyone liked their flyover—except NASCAR. It went over so well, in fact, that there could be more of these Confederate flyovers.
“We’ve had quite a bit of reaction,” Gramling said. “It’s been very well received by everyone except NASCAR. This is the hottest, quickest thing we’ve done to raise awareness of flag issues and to get a strong reaction in quite a while.”