NASCAR, the auto-racing series, is likely to witness numerous benefits as a brand from its decision to ban the Confederate flag at events and boost its inclusivity efforts, according to a new study.

Performance Research, a sponsorship analytics company, and Full Circle Research Co., a research firm, interviewed 1,000 adults, a sample that featured “avid” fans of NASCAR as well as non-fans. The results also broke out data for respondents who identified as Black to gain a more granular perspective from this audience.

The survey data was collected from 22–24 June, roughly two weeks after NASCAR announced it would ban Confederate flags at race venues, and when a noose was found in the garage stall assigned to Bubba Wallace, currently NASCAR’s only Black driver.

And the research found the decision to prohibit Confederate flags was supported by 53% of NASCAR fans over 40 years old – a total growing to 76% for younger fans.

Fifty-seven percent of the sport’s fanbase, and 73% of its fans below 40 years old, agreed they held a “more positive image” of NASCAR due to it actions in this area, too.

Additionally, fully 65% of all NASCAR fans had “more respect” for the racing series in response to the steps it has made in this regard.

Twenty percent of the property’s older fans, however, suggested that diversification efforts might discourage them from viewing and attending its events going forwards.

Such a trend, the study argued, may be “strongly offset” by the fact that over a third of Black respondents to its poll, and two-thirds of younger fans, were more likely to watch races due to NASCAR’s enhanced inclusivity agenda.

Moreover, a 32% share of “general population non-fans” who took the survey reported that NASCAR’s decision to proscribe the Confederate flag had increased their interest in the sport.

Between 70% and 80% of potential fans also agreed with propositions that NASCAR was showing its relevance, taking a leadership role in sports, making a difference in society, and was aligned with their personal values.

The favorable impacts may extend to sponsors of the sport, as well, with 60% of fans stating they will take “extra steps to support NASCAR sponsors who incorporate Black Lives Matter messaging into their NASCAR partnerships.”

In keeping with the poll’s other results, scores on this metric climbed to 76% when these fans were under 40 years of age.

Reflecting the greater enthusiasm for diversity shown by younger fans, Bill Doyle, vp/director of motorsports research at Performance Research, suggested that NASCAR’s moves now will have a major long-term impact.

“I have been a researcher and consultant in this field since the mid-eighties, and I believe that in ten or 15 years’ time, NASCAR history books will look back at this past month or so as one of the most significant turning points for the sport and its future”, he said.

Sourced from Performance Research; additional content by WARC staff