White Supremacists Target NASCAR's Daytona 500 For Major Recruitment Drive
Update: A small airplane towing a banner displaying the slogan: "Love Your Race: www.natall.com" made several passes over the Daytona 500 event. At least two white supremacists were seen distributing National Alliance literature at a parking lot near the Daytona Speedway. A white supremacist Web site claimed that at least three different fliers were handed out near the racetrack.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL, February 18, 2005 … One of the country's largest and most virulent anti-Semitic and racist hate groups plans to undertake a major recruitment drive at the Daytona International Speedway during NASCAR's Daytona 500 Race on Sunday, February 20.
Among other claims, the neo-Nazi National Alliance (N.A.) says it has arranged for an airplane to fly over the racetrack with a banner that reads, "Love Your Race" and promoting the group's Web site. Members of the group also plan on handing out fliers in the parking lot near the nationally televised event.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which monitors extremist groups, has notified local and state law enforcement authorities of the planned recruitment effort, and is warning the public to beware the group's hateful agenda.
"Our concern is that people will think that the National Alliance is some kind of mainstream group, when in fact they are a dangerous extremist group," said Mark Medin, ADL Florida Regional Director. "The National Alliance clearly sees this high-profile gathering of NASCAR fans as a prime opportunity to spread their message of hate, or possibly to recruit new members."
According to postings by National Alliance members on the Internet, the Tampa unit, led by Todd Weingart, is coordinating the recruitment drive. The group's national leadership in West Virginia has indicated their support.
This is not the first time the group has targeted a NASCAR event. In November 2003, four members of the National Alliance reportedly handed out racist fliers, cards and tape recordings of their broadcasts at the NASCAR Winston Cup Race in North Carolina. At the time, the group said it was trying to exploit tensions around efforts by African-Americans to diversify the sport of car racing.
One of the largest and most active neo-Nazi organizations in the U.S., the N.A. has four chapters in Florida: Orlando, Tampa, Palm Beach and Gainesville. The group has recently spread racist and anti-Semitic literature in Ft. Myers, Davie and St. Petersburg, and has rented billboard space on the Florida Turnpike near Orlando.
In the last decade, the N.A. has enjoyed significant growth and has recently focused most of its attention on recruiting young racists. At the same time, the N.A. has tried to attract middle-class professionals willing to be part of a dedicated cadre that carries out the group's goals. Over the last several years, dozens of violent crimes, including murders, bombings and robberies have been traced to N.A. members or appear to have been inspired by the group's propaganda.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.