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OPINION: What was Mike Harmon implying with NASCAR paint job?

Mike Harmon Racing 47
MHR via Twitter

In a design that appears to counter Bubba Wallace’s Black Lives Matter car scheme, Mike Harmon sends his own message

It is quite apparent what Mike Harmon believes. At Daytona International Speedway in February, he ran his No. 47 Chevy with a Trump 2020 paint scheme. Funding came from Patriots PAC of America, a group connected with ‘Race Fans for Trump 2020.’ Last Saturday, Harmon had another paint job that drew national attention.

MHR Trump

MHR Trump paint job at Daytona

Kyle Weatherman was behind the wheel of the Mike Harmon Racing machine at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a Back The Blue hashtag on the rear and side panels, and an American Flag with a blue line through it on the hood. While not explicitly saying it, the reference was clear: Blue Lives Matter. MHR tweeted that it “supports our LEO’s (law enforcement officers) and First Responders, we THANK YOU for your service, sacrifice, and dedication.”

Mike Harmon's car

Mike Harmon’s car. Via MHR Twitter.

It came just days after NASCAR banned the confederate flag at tracks, and Bubba Wallace driving a Black Lives Matter car at Martinsville Speedway. So, what was Harmon saying?

Backing the police is not a bad thing—quite the contrary. Most are good cops despite recent incidents. But we must also know that not all black people are bad either.

The two are clashing right now for the actions of a few individuals, and sometimes entire departments. The Black Lives Matter mantra after the George Floyd killing countered with All Lives Matter as well as Blue Lives Matter. Those behind those retorts to BLM had no clue the controversy it would bring. Wallace suggested that BLM was an oversimplification and that Black Live Matter, Too, would end the All/Blue comparisons.

With Harmon’s recent past, his paint scheme comes off as thumbing his nose at BLM, thumbing his nose at NASCAR for agreeing with a black man over the confederate flag. It was as if he thumbed his nose at a legend, Richard Petty, who not only agreed with his driver but added a peace sign on the back of both sides of his famed No. 43.

Mike Harmon

Mike Harmon. PHOTO: Ted Fleming | Speedway Tribune

You have to remember that Petty raced in a day where racism was a norm, not an aberration. Whether he held those beliefs back then is of no consequence. It is what he believes now. But you can bet The King is not anti-police either.

So was Mark Harmon showing his racist side? Nowhere on his Twitter feed is there any mention of Wallace, Black Lives Matter, or the murder of George Floyd or anyone else who died at the hands of police who were fired or charged. There is something also very odd about his timeline. You can go back more than a year and realize there isn’t a single picture with a person of color. Why is that?

The simple fact is that Harmon doesn’t seem to care. But the not-so-funny thing is that NASCAR allows virtually anything on cars. Or on a race either, as witnessed by the NRA being a title sponsor. Bristol Motor Speedway retained them as a co-sponsor in 2018 even after a mass shooting at a Florida High School the month before. With corporations not as involved as they used to be, money talks. And owner-drivers like Mark Harmon has exploited it.

And that is a shame.

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