NASCAR stars endorse Trump, fans react

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, right, accompanied by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, speaks at a rally at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Ga., Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – Some think it’s great, others are upset and promising to boycott the sport, but it’s clear that NASCAR fans are reacting strongly to Monday’s endorsement of Donald Trump by several big name drivers and NASCAR head Brian France.

“This can only hurt NASCAR,” Nathaniel Williams tweeted. “They’ve fought for years to be more than a stereotype, but now they’ve set themselves back.”

“As a black fan I have taken a lot of s*** from other black people by defending this sport,” Kasey Reese tweeted. “It just disappoints me to see.”

The announcement came one day after Trump was criticized for not immediately disavowing the Ku Klux Klan and KKK leader David Duke, though he later did so.

Many said that the endorsement could hurt NASCAR’s efforts to increase diversity both on the track and in the grandstands.

Many other social media users showed their support of the move.

“Thank you Brian France, Bill Elliot, Chase Elliot, David Ragan, and Ryan Newman,” tweeted Stewart Reed.

The Republican presidential front runner announced the endorsements during a campaign rally in Georgia at Valdosta State University on Monday.

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

“He wins with his family,” France said. “Any of his children, you’d be proud to have them as part of your family. That’s how I judge a winner, how somebody manages their family and raises their family.”

“We need a change, guys,” NASCAR legend Bill Elliott said. “That’s all there is to it. And I think this is the man for the job.”

Locally, fans also had mixed reactions.

“Donald Trump lies as fast as the NASCAR cars can go,” said Louise Webber of Concord. “Seems like it would hurt for anybody watching NASCAR and doesn’t like Donald Trump.”

“I think Donald Trump would be a good president, it didn’t affect me a bit what he said yesterday,” said Austin Eddy.

At Charlotte Motor Speedway longtime fan Randall Epps questioned whether such an endorsement would really influence fans.

“I think it surprised a lot of people that Mr. France came out and said what he said,” Epps said. “Race fans don’t play the political game, I don’t think Mr. France’s comments are going to sway the race fan either way.”

NASCAR issued a statement on Monday pointing out that the endorsement was “personal” on behalf of France, and did not represent a corporate endorsement.

Last July, NASCAR pulled the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series award ceremonies from the Trump resort near Miami following Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants.

Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis spoke to NASCAR about pulling out of Trump’s resort in a letter to Brian France. Lemonis called Trump’s comments about Mexicans “blatantly bigoted and racist.”

On Monday night Lemonis took to Twitter to express frustration over the Trump endorsement, tweeting “There is no place for politics/any political endorsements in any business. Your customers and employees should have their own mind.”

Copyright 2016 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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