American truck drivers are fed up, and they’re not gonna take it anymore. Well, some of them. Canada instituted a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirement for truck drivers crossing into the country from the United States, which lead to weeks of demonstration in Ottawa, Canada’s capitol. That sentiment has made its way south, and a small contingent of truck drivers throughout the United States have joined forces with enthusiastic RV and camper owners to protest near Washington, D.C. One racetrack in the area, Dominion Raceway and Entertainment, hosted the group on Sunday night, and it’s sparked ire among some local motorsports fans.
On its surface, Dominion Raceway is quite the venue, offering a road racing course, drag strip, and circle track all in one spot. There’s a multi-level building for spectators that’s pretty nice inside. Several groups host track days on the road course, and the circle track is home to the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts weekly racing series.
What’s Everyone Protesting?
The ‘People’s Convoy’ claims to be composed of a variety of truck drivers, of many races and political parties. Their intent, according to a press release, is to encourage the federal government to “lift [sic] all mandates and end [sic] the state of emergency” as part of the ongoing response to COVID-19.
Okay, great, don’t like mandates and states of emergency. Got it. As Jalopnik’s Erin Marquis points out, those have been left to the states for the most part, not the federal government:”But so much of what the convoy wants addressed — on the ground lockdowns, mask mandates, and proof of vaccination requirements — are set at state and local and sometimes, down to certain venue’s levels.”
Welcome to the DMV
Despite truckers not planning on entering Washington, D.C. directly, they’ve been attempting to take slow laps of I-495, better known as the D.C. Beltway, to snarl traffic and cause some sort of delays while raising attention to their noble cause.
Spoiler alert: the Beltway is always slow and full of delays. Welcome to the DMV – if the day ends in “-y” then you’ll deal with Beltway traffic. Have fun driving in circles, the locals can generally get around without this ringed highway as it is.
Dominion Raceway’s ‘Private Event’
The “and Entertainment” part of Dominion’s name is very real, the facility has an indoor space for concerts or can host bigger events outside. Clearly, the facility is able to be rented by just about anyone to host an event. The People’s Convoy allegedly rented the facility for a gathering of convoy drivers and supportive locals on Sunday night, replete with musical guests that included Michael Ray and Phil Vassar.
Look, I think this convoy is all very silly, but I support these drivers’ right to drive in circles and gather at privately-rented facilities. They appear to be following regulations imposed by the District regarding large trucks, claiming some convoy members will enter D.C. in cars to protest (with a permit, I hope). Dominion Raceway chose to allow this group to rent the facility, as they would with anyone else, which is undoubtedly great for their bottom line. What baffles me is how they chose to promote what was going on.
Other racetracks use their social media to promote car-related events that are upcoming or recently passed. Dominion’s line blurs a bit given their entertainment sub-brand, and you’ll see musical artists promoted on their social channels as well. The surprising bit is that Dominion Raceway also chose to film and share a video of trucks arriving from this convoy as supporters cheered their arrival.
Watching the video, a Confederate flag is plainly visible on the fence that runs alongside the left of the frame. While it appears next to some “thin blue line” flags, a design that can at least in theory be interpreted in a few ways, displaying the Confederate flag in 2022 makes a very clear statement. It says the quiet part out loud.
I reached out to Dominion Raceway for comment on the event and the video in particular. It would have been easy to frame the video in a way that didn’t show the flag, if they had wanted to share some rah-rah-American-flags-on-trucks content. They could have reviewed the video and cropped it just slightly, even. But, they didn’t.
Steve Britt, managing member (and, ostensibly, owner) of Dominion Raceway, told me in an email that “…this is a non political activity of the The Great American Patriot project. While we understand that this group has a bias the event that we agreed to had no political “bent” no politicians attended etc… For Dominion Raceway it was a rental not a donation for a political cause, we charged and Great American paid a market rental. This isn’t a racing event nor do we have any persuasion over flags displayed on vehicles etc because it was a private rental. The oversight for the entire event was by the promoter.”
Everyone has their own personal values, and whether you or I agree with them doesn’t much matter here. What surprises me is that a racetrack – a type of facility that historically needs all the rentals and income and positive attention it can get – chose to share a video with a prominent Confederate flag to nearly 38,000 followers on Facebook and over 6,000 followers on Instagram.
Meanwhile, the same convoy group gathered at Hagerstown Speedway in Maryland a few days prior, and the Speedway didn’t share anything about the facility rental on their own Facebook or Instagram accounts.
Whether it was filmed by a promoter or a Dominion staff member, Dominion Raceway made the choice to publish this video as-is, which sends a message that is counter to what every amateur motorsport sanctioning body I know is trying to send.