TIME racing

NASCAR Fans Defend Confederate Flag

Confederate flags are seen prior to practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway on July 3, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Jerry Markland—Getty Images Confederate flags are seen prior to practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., on July 3, 2015.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Steven Rebenstorf has numerous flags flying atop his canopy tent inside Daytona International Speedway.

The Confederate flag is front and center.

It’s been like that for years. And the 57-year-old Rebenstorf has no plans to take it down — not even if NASCAR decides to ban the embattled flag from its racetracks.

“They’d have to come and get it,” Rebenstorf said Saturday, pointing out that his American flag purposely flies a few inches higher than the rest.

Rebenstorf and others staunchly defended their Confederate flags at NASCAR’s first race in the South since the racing series and its tracks urged fans to no longer wave the banner. Dozens were scattered throughout the vast infield all weekend leading to Sunday’s race.

“It kills me that NASCAR is jumping on the bandwagon,” said 55-year-old Paul Stevens of nearby Port Orange. “They should just let it pass, let everything die down. But NASCAR is too quick to try to be politically correct like everybody else.”

NASCAR took a stance on the Confederate flag after last month’s South Carolina church massacre. It backed Gov. Nikki Haley’s call to remove it from the Statehouse grounds and noted it doesn’t allow the flag on anything it sanctions. The series stopped short of banning fans from displaying the flag at its events, but Daytona and 29 other tracks asked fans to refrain from flying them.

Not everyone obliged. Daytona also offered to exchange Confederate flags for American flags this weekend, and track officials said a few made the swap Sunday morning.

“I think the voluntary exchange program for us right now was appropriate with the limited window that we had coming into this event weekend,” track president Joie Chitwood said. “And more importantly, I think it’s important to trust our fans, asking our fans to display a flag that we should all be proud of. Everybody should be proud of the American flag.”

Indeed, the American flag is prominently displayed all around Daytona — no surprise given the Fourth of July holiday and the patriotism that NASCAR routinely promotes.

But spotting a Confederate flag is easier than finding a souvenir shop, restroom or beer stand.

The first motorhome located inside the Turn 4 tunnel has one flying high above it, and it doesn’t take long to reach double figures when counting them on a stroll through the infield. They’re on clothing, coolers and cars, and even tattooed on skin.

Larry Reeves of Jacksonville Beach has a tattered Confederate flag on top of his motorhome. He initially thought NASCAR was banning the banner and didn’t display it this week. But once he saw some flying around him and asked a few questions, he realized it was voluntary and quickly sent his back up the pole.

“It’s just a Southern pride thing,” the 66-year-old Reeves said. “It’s nothing racist or anything. I’ve been doing this for 30 years. My family is from Alabama and we’ve been going to Talladega forever. It isn’t a Confederate thing so much as it is a NASCAR thing. That’s why I fly it.”

Like others at Daytona, Reeves believes the flag flap is much ado about nothing.

“It’s not a big deal one way or the other,” Reeves said. “If I can’t fly it, I won’t. But if I don’t have to take it down, I’m just going to leave it up.”

Rebenstorf plans to leave his up no matter what NASCAR mandates.

The St. Petersburg resident spent six years in the Navy, served in the color guard and has strong feelings about vexillology, the scientific study of the history, symbolism and usage of flags.

“The Confederate flag has absolutely nothing to do with slavery. It has nothing to do with divisiveness. It has nothing to do with any of that,” Rebenstorf said, pausing for a few minutes to pull off his floppy hat, stand at attention and salute during the national anthem Saturday. “It was just a battle banner until the Ku Klux Klan draped it around themselves. Now, all of a sudden, it represents slavery and that’s not at all true.”

The Civil War-era flag has been under attack since nine black men and women were gunned down at a historic church in Charleston on June 17.

The suspect, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, had posed with a Confederate flag in photos posted on a website that displayed a racist manifesto attributed to him.

NASCAR, which has roots in the deep South, moved quickly to distance itself from the flag despite some backlash from fans. The sanctioning body could have done — and eventually might do — more.

“I think what happens in this situation is you have people on both sides who feel very strongly about something and they’re very passionate about it,” Chitwood said. “You can’t argue with someone’s passion or their opinion. That creates something that ends up on the front page of the newspaper or is the headline in the news. If we’re going to enter that discussion, you’ve got to be thoughtful and we’ve got to really think through it and be fair to both sides and make sure that whatever we come up can work.

“In something like this, the more thoughtful we can be, understanding and really taking the time to really vet through, I think that’s going to be the important thing moving forward.”

TIME BMW: A Company on the Edge

The Race to Sell BMWs

How the car maker uses the track to shape its image and its product

On a crystalline day in late-July 1894, the Parisian gazette Le Petit Journal organized what is widely considered the first motoring competition. The paper’s editor, Pierre Giffard, surmized of contest of then-new, so-called horseless carriages from Paris to northern Rouen would boost circulation. It was a rough trial. Many of the 69 vehicles that entered never made it. Those that did traveled at a glacial average speed of 11 miles per hour. But the stunt coincided with the beginning of the automotive era, and manufacturers ever since have seen in racing a chance to test their technology and influence potential customers in the process. (A vehicle made by Peugeot was among the top finishers.)

Today, automakers from Ford to Ferarri count on motorsports to help spread word of their worth. It gives engineers and designers bragging rights over their competitors. The marketing doesn’t hurt either. In this video, TIME takes a look at BMW’s racing history and how its participation in motorsports influences the cars even the most cautious customers drive.

TIME triple crown

Is American Pharoah’s Triple Crown Win Bad for Stocks?

147th Belmont Stakes
Al Bello—Getty Images American Pharoah becomes the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years.

The S&P 500 has fared poorly in past years with a Triple Crown winner

American Pharoah just became the first racehorse to win the sport’s Triple Crown in 37 years, but is it possible that the excitement from Saturday’s victory at the Belmont Stakes could carry over to the stock market?

History says no. In the 10 other years where horse-racing saw a Triple Crown winner, the S&P 500 generally faded away in the final stretch, posting negative numbers through the end of nine of those 10 years. In fact, the average S&P 500 performance in those years (all of which came between 1930 and 1978) would be a decline of 9%, according to Bespoke Investment Group. That’s compared to average positive returns of more than 5% for the index in years without a Triple Crown winner, going back to 1928.

Some of those averages are weighed down by the fact that three of the years that produced a Triple Crown winner fell in the middle of the Great Depression and the S&P 500’s performance dipped by about 35% in two of those years, though it improved in one, as well. In the most recent decade to produce a Triple Crown winner, the 1970s, the S&P 500 declined an average of more than 5% after the Belmont Stakes in the three Triple Crown years.

Of course, you would be hard-pressed to find a Wall Street analyst who actually thinks that the results of three spring horse races could significantly move the markets. Most experts forecast full-year gains for the S&P 500 this year after the index improved by nearly 14% in 2014. As of this afternoon, though, stocks have declined since American Pharoah’s win, though Monday’s poor market performance is more likely linked to impending interest rate hikes rather than the Triple Crown.

TIME Sports

Why It Seems Like Triple Crown Victories Cluster Together

1978 Belmont Stakes
Robert Riger—Getty Images Jockey Steve Cauthen rides Affirmed #3 as Jorge Velasquez tries to pull Alydar #2 into first place during the Belmont Stakes on June 10, 1978, at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

They have mostly happened in just three decades

Look at a list of past Triple Crown winners and something is immediately obvious: it’s been nearly a century since the trio of races—the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes—were lumped together under that name, and the horses who have won are lumped together too. The 1930s saw three winners; the 1940s had four, and there were three in the 1970s. The only outlier was in 1919, before the three races were widely known as the Triple Crown. If American Pharoah takes the title at Belmont on Saturday, he will be the first winner of all three in 37 years.

So why does it seem like certain decades produce great Triple Crown horses and others fall flat?

TIME asked just that same question in 1979, the year after Affirmed took the elusive title:

When the big, three-sided trophy by Cartier was inaugurated by the Thoroughbred Racing Association in 1950, only nine horses, from Sir Barton in 1919 to Citation in 1948, had earned the right to have their names engraved on the emblem of the Triple Crown of American racing. After Citation, 25 long years passed before Secretariat added another name to that most select circle, and through the long drought, one question bedeviled breeders, owners, trainers and bettors alike: Why were there no Triple Crown champions?

But once Secretariat broke the spell in 1973, there followed in quick succession a parade of superhorses. Seattle Slew won the title in 1977, Affirmed last year, and this year Spectacular Bid is the favorite to capture the Belmont Stakes on Saturday and, with it, the coveted Triple Crown. The new question: Why are there suddenly so many champions?

The answer, it turned out, was an unsatisfying one: winning streaks are mostly luck. Why do we think otherwise? Blame a concept familiar to statisticians and gamblers: the clustering illusion, which is the human tendency to see streaks as significant, whereas in reality any series of events is likely to contain its fair share of clusters. Though horse racing is not actually random in the way a coin toss is, the analogy holds up: one study about streaks in basketball, a similarly talent-based activity, found that perceived hot streaks or cold streaks were pretty much just in the players’ and fans’ imaginations.

Sure, some factors were under human control. The top sires of the 1970s, like Bold Ruler, whose descendants included both Secretariat and Seattle Slew, were being made more available to a greater number of mares, creating a stronger pool. Still, racing magnate Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt told TIME that those were probably not the deciding factors. “I can’t think of any logical reason for more Triple Crown horses lately,” he said. “And if we do get a third in a row this year, I think it’s mostly chance.”

As it turned out, Spectacular Bid’s luck had run out. Same for every horse that followed in his footsteps. We’ll see if that holds for another year.

Read the full story from 1979, here in the TIME Vault: Riddle of the Triple Crown

TIME Auto Racing

Idris Elba Proves He Can Drive Like James Bond

The actor broke a 1927 record in the U.K. for the "flying mile"

Actor Idris Elba broke a nearly 90-year speed record in the U.K. last weekend when he averaged more than 180 miles per hour during a one-mile stretch.

The Luther star was in the driver’s seat of a standard Bentley Continental GT Speed on Sunday in Wales, according to CNN Money. His top speed was 186.4 miles per hour during the “flying mile”—in which a driver can get up to speed before the car is clocked at two points, one mile apart—but his average was 180.4 miles per hour. Elba’s run came while shooting the Discovery Channel series Idris Elba: No Limits, which will air in July.

Elba beat out the last record, set in 1927 by Sir Malcolm Campbell, who hit 174.2 miles in hour.

Now imagine the car chase scenes if he ever actually plays James Bond.

[CNN Money]

TIME viral

Watch Driving Instructors Get Pranked By a Pro Racer

They think she doesn't know how to drive

Driving tests are supposed to be nerve-racking for new students, but one Malaysian driving school flipped the script and absolutely terrified their rookie instructors.

To prank employees on their first day of work, the school hired Leona Chin, a professional rally-racing driver, to be the unlucky tutors’ first pupil.

Chin, dressed up in a nerdy-looking outfit, spends the first half of the video pretending she’s a hopeless learner. Then, just as instructors are getting frustrated, Chin reveals her true talents—and the reactions are priceless.

“The 3 employees you saw at the end loved it and laughed it off, but the guy in the blue shirt was not too happy. That’s why we didn’t have footage of him smiling,” Izmir Mujab, CEO of the media company behind the video, told TIME.

Read next: Watch Mariah Carey Kill at Car Karaoke on The Late Late Show

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Auto Racing

Watch NASCAR Driver Joey Logano Win the Daytona 500

He beat out four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and two-time Daytona winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

NASCAR driver Joey Logano finally lived up to his billing as one of the top drivers on the American racing circuit, winning the coveted Daytona 500 on Sunday in a nail-biting finish.

The 24-year-old Connecticut native beat out a competitive playing field including two-time Daytona winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. and four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon, Sports Illustrated reported.

Gordon dominated most of the race but was stymied by traffic during the final push, allowing Logano to surge to the front and hold on for his maiden title.

“Daytona 500, oh my God! Are you kidding me?” he yelled following his victory. “I was so nervous the whole race.”

[Sports Illustrated]

TIME the backstory

Photojournalism Daily: Nov. 21, 2014

Photojournalism Daily is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Mauricio Lima’s photographs on fishing for the pirarucu, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish, in Brazil’s Amazonas region. Nearly two decades of conservation efforts, which, today, allow only locals to harpoon and bludgeon the pirarucu, appear to be working. Lima’s striking pictures illustrate the struggle that goes into killing these beasts, whose fragile survival impacts these fishermen’s only livelihood.


Mauricio Lima: Fishing for a Goliath of the River in the Amazon (The New York Times)

Adam Dean: Burma (Time.com) These photographs capture a still impoverished Burma as it stumbles through democratic transition, and ethnic strife.

Michele Sibiloni: Uganda’s thriving drug scene (Al Jazeera) These scenes document the surge in drug use in the country’s capital, Kampala, while parliamentary representatives are debating the introduction of a tough narcotics-bill. Critics, however, argue the new legislation could unfairly punish the poor.

Jim Mangan: Blast (The New Yorker’s Photo Booth) Surprising, yet beautiful aerial pictures that capture a rally-car driver Ken Block racing through the Utah desert.

Gianluca Panella: Gaza Blackout’s Backstage (Leica Camera) The Italian photographer interviewed about his World Press Photo award winning series.


Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.


TIME NASCAR

Father of Driver Killed After Race Collision: Tony Stewart Was ‘Only One’ Who Didn’t See My Son

Cheez-It 355 At The Glen
Jerry Markland—Getty Images The #14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet is prepared by its crew in the garage area prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 10, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York.

Kevin Ward, Sr., says his son slept with a smile on his face

The father of Kevin Ward, Jr., who died Saturday after bring struck by NASCAR star Tony Stewart, said Tuesday that his son “was just a very God-gifted kid.”

“I think he slept with a smile on his face,” Kevin Ward told Syracuse.com of his son, in an interview published Wednesday.

Kevin Ward, Jr. was killed after he was struck by Stewart’s car during a race on a dirt track in Canandaigua, New York, about 25 miles from Rochester. Before the incident, Ward’s car was bumped into a wall by Stewart’s vehicle, effectively knocking Ward out of the race. During a subsequent safety lap, Ward got out of his car and stood on the track, seemingly to confront Stewart about the collision — a move that’s not uncommon in local races. However, Ward was struck and dragged by Stewart’s car, and he died later that day.

An investigation into the incident is currently ongoing. Stewart, a NASCAR driver who also often competes on a local level, dropped out of a NASCAR event Sunday following Ward’s death.

“I think the reason [Ward] probably got out of that car is who put him into the wall. He was definitely put into the wall,” Ward’s father told Syracuse.com. “Apparently, Tony Stewart was the only one driving out there who didn’t see him.”

Ward Sr. said he did not see his son get hit because he was busy getting to the spot where the racer’s car had hit the wall. He did, however, watch paramedics perform CPR on his son for some 45 minutes.

“He was a special person to many, and a very special person to his family,” Ward Sr. said.

Ward Sr. and his wife have met with the Ontario County Sheriff’s deputies twice since their son’s death.

“The one person that knows what happened that night is possibly facing 10 years in prison. Is he going to say what he done?,” asked Ward Sr.

[Syracuse.com]

TIME racing

The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy: Dangerous Motorcycle Mayhem

This is one of the deadliest races in the world.

The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy is among the most dangerous races on Earth, with 242 deaths in 107 years of existence.
The TT, as it is commonly known, is the oldest race in motorcycle history, uniting high-octane adrenaline junkies with fun-loving bikers.
For more, see our feature video story on Conor Cummins, a racer who crashed in the TT and survived: The Isle of Men – The World’s Deadliest Race

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