The Sons of Confederate Veterans announced they were responsible for a "Defund NASCAR" banner that flew over Talladega Superspeedway before Sunday's scheduled race.
Paul C. Gramling Jr., Sons of Confederate Veterans lieutenant commander-in-chief, issued a statement about the banner to James Bennett of the Columbia Daily Herald:
"NASCAR's banning the display of the Confederate battle flag by its fans is nothing less than trampling upon Southerners' First Amendment Right of free expression. This un-American act shall not go unchallenged. [On Sunday], members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans' Confederate Air Force displayed its disapproval of NASCAR's trampling upon the First Amendment Rights of Southerners. During and before the start of the NASCAR race in Talladega, Alabama, race, our plane flew a banner announcing a drive to 'defund NASCAR.'"
The banner also included the Confederate flag, which NASCAR announced on June 10 was permanently banned from all races and events.
Gramling also accused NASCAR of trying to further divide the United States by "slandering our southern heritage."
In addition to the "Defund NASCAR" banner, NASCAR reporter Jerry Jordan noted a group of protesters were seen driving past Talladega with Confederate flags flying on their cars and motorcycles.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans is made up of blood descendants from Confederate soldiers who fought in the Civil War. The group—based in Columbia, Tennessee—was established in 1896, 31 years after Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union general Ulysses S. Grant.