Are we going in circles here?
Wednesday, President Donald Trump called out tire manufacturer Goodyear following a report on the company’s policy banning explicitly political attire from the workplace. A photo reportedly taken by a Goodyear employee of a training slide listed “MAGA Attire” as ‘unacceptable,’ while “Black Lives Matter” and “LGBT” gear was listed as ‘acceptable,’ under a header reading ‘Zero Tolerance.’ Trump’s response was swift:
Don’t buy GOODYEAR TIRES – They announced a BAN ON MAGA HATS. Get better tires for far less! (This is what the Radical Left Democrats do. Two can play the same game, and we have to start playing it now!).
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2020
Goodyear’s stock quickly fell by roughly 3% before rebounding, but it is unclear how many people will follow through on the boycott request. Tire Business reported in 2018 that Goodyear tires were on 24% of new U.S. vehicles. In NASCAR, that number is 100%.
In a statement, Goodyear said, “We ask that associates refrain from workplace expressions in support of political campaigning for any candidate or political party, as well as similar forms of advocacy that fall outside the scope of racial justice and equity issues.”
As NASCAR’s official tire, “Goodyear has been intertwined with the sport of NASCAR for more than 60 years,” Karen Maroli, Goodyear’s vice president of marketing, told Forbes in May. And that means NASCAR could find itself in political waters yet again.
Multiple NASCAR drivers, as well as CEO Robert France, endorsed Trump during his 2016 campaign, though France’s announcement “roiled” the sport, according to the AP.
In 2018, Trump called NASCAR “a celebration of the American spirit.” And this February, he was on hand for the Daytona 500, riding the Presidential limo around the track.
But the relationship seemed to sour this summer. NASCAR banned the confederate flag, allowed team members to peacefully protest during the playing of the pre-race anthem, and rallied behind its only black driver on the top circuit, Bubba Wallace, after what appeared to be a noose was reported in his team’s garage.
After it was discovered that the noose had been in the area since late 2019, Trump tweeted that the situation was “just another HOAX” and claimed that NASCAR’s “flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!”
In response, driver Tyler Reddick said, “we will do just fine without your support,” in a since-deleted tweet. NASCAR did not directly respond to Trump but did put out a statement supporting Wallace.
This time around, as the President goes after one of the sport’s biggest partners, NASCAR has thus far declined to comment.
Racing returns Saturday in Dover, Del., where every car—including Corey Lajoie’s “Trump 2020” No. 32 ride—will still compete on Goodyear tires.
“It’s either those tires or no tires,” Go FAS Racing general manager Mason St. Hilaire told FOX Business. “We don’t have much of a choice.”
The following day brings IndyCar’s Indianapolis 500. They run on Firestone tires.
-With assistance from Cora Veltman