Brandon just wanna drive his race car


My colleague, columnist John McWhorter, a trained linguist, noted in a recent essay that the slogan was an American example of a euphemistic linguistic practice known in South Africa as hlonipha, in which a word or phrase harmless is substituted for a statement which may offend. “Let’s go, Brandon! Also works as a “group salute” for Republicans, McWhorter wrote.

It didn’t seem to suit Mr. Brown very well. “I don’t want this to be just a substitute for a curse,” he said. Then he reconsidered his position, “I mean, if that makes things more polite, then by God I guess go for it,” he said.

Part of his problem is that he faces a microcosm of what NASCAR sails. The “challenge of the motor racing association is to please a new audience without alienating an old one, even as it seeks to distance itself from what was dear to this old audience,” Roy Furchgott recently wrote in the New York Times. NASCAR is trying to appeal to a new generation of younger and more diverse fans and to hang on as a cultural center of the conservative White South. Earlier on Mr. Brown’s victory day, a group of racing fans conveyed Confederate flags outside the freeway, the fourth such protest against NASCAR’s ban on Confederate flags from its events.

“This whole victory at Talladega was meant to be a celebration and then it was meant to be something that I could use to progress, and I really wanted to build on it,” said Brown. “But with this meme going viral, it was more, I had to stay quieter, because everyone wanted it to go on the political side. I’m on the running side.

Before our round we talked about racing, and Mr. Brown was lively and intense as he explained the basics: how the Xfinity Series is similar to AAA, the highest echelon in minor league baseball, and why the retention of the gas is crucial (you are wasting refueling time). After the ride, we sat at a picnic table near the Dominion Raceway. My stomach started to calm down and I started asking him questions about politics.

Mr. Brown looked away from me, over the runway, trying to make sure he was speaking carefully. He’s a Republican, he says. He makes sure to vote on election day and would like to encourage others to vote as well, but prefers not to say who he voted for.

And did he think we should, well, swear at Joe Biden?

“The problem is, I don’t know enough about politics to really form a true opinion, so I’m really focusing on racing,” he said.


Comments are closed.