This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Sun, Sep 11, 2005
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
BREAKING THROUGH BARRIERS IN NASCAR
Morty Buckles, an African American member of the all-black Miller Racing Group, took the checkered flag at the NASCAR Late Model Weekly Series race at Coastal Plains Speedway in Jacksonville, North Carolina. According to team co-owner Leonard Miller, as Buckles approached the podium, other competitors in pit lane "waved rebel flags as us in defiance," and a young child behind the fence shouted at the victors, "You people go home!" Had this event taken place during the time of racial segregation in the South, it wouldn't be so surprising. However, this event took place in the 21st century - more specifically, in late 2001. It's one of many stories captured in Silent Thunder, the newly published memoir of auto racing veteran Leonard Miller. The book offers an inside look at the struggles and triumphs of one of the most conspicuously absent groups of men and women in motorsports - African Americans. The image that NASCAR (the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing) attracts some of the more racist elements of our society is not dispelled by this book. However, the author does acknowledge efforts, such as NASCAR's early diversity program, to mitigate some of the racial, cultural and class barriers in the sport. The win at Coastal Plains Speedway was part of the program, when Miller's Dr. Pepper-sponsored team took the checkered flag. The author's personal chronicle of his forty-year career as a manager and owner of African American teams is a testimonial to the cultural, racial, and class barriers that often exist in the world of motorsports. But Miller's story is not just about barriers. While it uncovers some of the unfortunate undercurrents of America's most popular sport, it also emphasizes the hope and possibility for change. - Roy Nakano This article comes courtesy of our LA Car Blog.