The number “88” is one of the most well-known symbols in all of NASCAR. Dale Earnhardt Jr., voted the most popular NASCAR driver 15 times, adorned this number on his car from 2008-17. Dale Earnhardt Jr. started racing with the No. 8, but a team change in 2008 forced Dale Earnhardt Jr. to change numbers, so he added a matching digit and became car 88 until his 2017 retirement when Alex Bowman took over the reins.
I mention this because I recently noticed this symbol (#88) displayed proudly in our small town. Outside of Dyersville, I recently noticed a demo derby van that is painted like an American flag, with a “Trump 2020” declaration and a large “88.” In my eyes, this was far from a coincidence. This is a proud display of NASCAR fandom growing in our country.
The fact of the matter is the motorsport community is now under attack. Many people have noticed the growing abundance of liberalism in our country over the past few years and believe those ideas are overblown by the media or are in another part of the country. However, this sentiment is growing in our own small-town. It is disgusting, embarrassing and extremely sad.
Our town is known for being “Iowa Nice” and for welcoming tourists throughout the year, but what I saw in the letter to the editor in this paper on Oct. 28 was simply hate.
While one man builds a van for sport and pays tribute to the country he loves and the NASCAR driver he respects, Mitchell Silva drives past and immediately assumed that the number can only mean Neo-Nazi hate, attributing motive to where there is none and placing further divide in our community and society.
I don’t care who you vote for, but I will not stand idly by while liberals continually accuse the motorsport community of racism. I ask everyone in Dyersville to take a stand, speak up for what you know is right and love one another regardless of NASCAR fandom.