For all its alleged affiliation with the Donald Trump side of the political ledger, NASCAR cannot take a joke.
The Associated Press reported on Friday that the stock-car racing organization “denounced its association with the ‘Let’s go, Brandon’ political cry being used across the country as an insult directed at President Joe Biden.”
“Let’s go Brandon” took off as an anti-Biden anthem about a month ago. It emerged when NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast was interviewing NASCAR driver Brandon Brown after he won his first race in Alabama.
As the crowd clearly chanted “F–k Joe Biden” in the background, the reporter asserted they were cheering, “Let’s go, Brandon.”
The saying has since become an inside joke among conservatives as a family-friendly way to rip Biden.
NASCAR, however, is not amused.
As the AP reported Friday, NASCAR President Steve Phelps said the organization “will pursue action against any illegal use of its trademarks on merchandise boasting the slogan.”
Phelps, the AP noted, was apparently triggered after retired Major League Baseball star Lenny Dykstra posted a photo on Twitter this week of some rando at a New Jersey hotel wearing a “Let’s go, Brandon” T-shirt with NASCAR‘s trademarked color bars.
“We will pursue whoever (is using logos) and get that stuff,” Phelps told the AP. “That’s not OK. It’s not OK that you’re using our trademarks illegally, regardless of whether we agree with what the position is.”
“Do we like the fact that it kind of started with NASCAR and then is gaining ground out elsewhere?” Phelps added. “No, we’re not happy about that.”
“It’s an unfortunate situation and I feel for Brandon, I feel for Kelli,” Phelps said. “I think unfortunately it speaks to the state of where we are as a country. We do not want to associate ourselves with politics, the left or the right.”
Which is why last year, after NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, who is black, falsely claimed someone tied a noose in his garage stall at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, NASCAR called in 15 FBI agents, and staged a mass walkout by drivers to protest alleged racism.
As it turned out, it was a misunderstanding, as someone had tied a circular knot in a garage door’s pull-rope a year earlier, and Wallace being assigned that stall was happenstance.
Still, as the AP noted, Phelps’ NASCAR “took aggressive positions on social justice issues in 2020 during a nationwide racial reckoning following the death of George Floyd.”
“NASCAR banned the display of the Confederate flag at its events at the request” of Wallace, who also at one point last year wore an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt on pit road and raced with a Black Lives Matter paint scheme on his car in one race, the AP reported.
Phelps’ meltdown only makes one to shout all the more, “Let’s go,Brandon.”
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