Being one of NASCAR’s Monster Energy Girls is a tougher gig than most people would expect. But for Mariel Lane, the culture of the sport can make things even more difficult.
Lane, the only African-American member of the promotional team, often sees fans flying Confederate flags outside of some of the Southern tracks on NASCAR’s schedule, according to For The Win. But despite being “startled and nervous” when first noticing the flag’s prevalence, she considers it part of the sport’s culture, rather than a racially charged symbol.
“I guess since there’s not as much of a presence of minorities, it’s not something that people have to think about as often,” Lane said at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, via For The Win. “Once you start working in the sport, you train yourself to push it out. And NASCAR is something I’ve grown to love and even the fans and people that are part of it.”
The Tennessee native said she understands some consider the flag as more of a “southern thing” than a race issue, according to FTW. She also went on to praise NASCAR fans for their dedication and loyalty.
“There are people who think it’s just a Southern pride thing,” Lane said, via FTW. “It’s not saying they don’t care about people’s feelings, but it’s a little not coherent to, maybe, someone else’s opinion on it.
“You don’t want to put in your heart or in your mindset that a group of people are a certain type of way because of a flag … you want to genuinely get to know the fans and love them and not have preconceived notions because of something they have (hanging) up.”
In addition to dealing with some culture shock, Lane, like the rest of the Monster Energy Girls, has had to deal with occasional criticism and ridicule from NASCAR fans.