Yesterday, the news broke that NASCAR truck driver Ray Ciccarelli was retiring due to NASCAR’s decision to ban the Confederate flag at racetracks. I’ve never claimed to be a NASCAR fan, actually it’s quite the contrary. I once spread a rumor that the fumes from the cars caused brain damage to anyone sitting in the infield leading to lower IQ’s in NASCAR fans than in other sports.
However, when I heard the news of Ray Ciccarelli retiring because of this not-so-controversial decision (I assumed Confederate flags were banned at all sporting events), I was curious as to why I had never heard of this guy. They’ve shown enough race highlights on ESPN for me to be able to name at least a dozen racers, and recognize the names of a ton more. This led to me dig a bit deeper into Mr. Ciccarelli’s career and was blown away with what I found.
Ray Ciccarelli’s career is not one for the history books.
Over three years racing in the NASCAR Truck series, he competed to take place in 23 races qualifying in 18. His best finish was 9th at the 2019 Corrigan Oil 200. Only on two other occasions did he finish in the top 20 and had not yet raced in the 2020 NASCAR Series. If you want to take a look at his complete stats (you don’t), you can find them here.
For all intents and purposes, this man’s career was over before his retirement. However with one tweet, he catapulted himself into national conversation. No matter how you feel about his stance, you have to admit that the man is a PR genius. To retire after a completely garbage career and have it as one of the biggest stories in the country is amazing.
I know that before his retirement, I and the rest of the world would have had no idea who this guy was, and if you said the name to me, I probably would have guessed that he works in a pizza shop. Now, Ray Ciccarelli will always be known as the “Confederate Flag Driver,” and probably be able to spin that into a podcast that does great in the south.
Mr. Ciccarelli’s post no longer exists, but I’ve copied the text below for any aspiring public relations professionals who want to take a master class in turning a ghost into a nationally know figure.
“Well, it’s been a fun ride and dream come true but if this is the direction NASCAR is headed, we will not participate after 2020 season is over. I don’t believe in kneeling during Anthem nor taken ppl right to fly what ever flag they love. I could care less about the Confederate Flag, but there are ppl that do and it doesn’t make them a racist all you are doing is fucking one group to cater to another and i ain’t spend the money we are to participate in any political BS!! So everything is for SALE!!”
No matter how you feel about his politics or his stance on this topic, you know about him now, and all anyone wants at the end of the day is to be remembered. Ray has accomplished that.