Announcer fired after making ‘racist’ comments about kneeling for the national anthem
A racetrack in Iowa parted ways with an announcer after his “racist rant” about kneeling for the national anthem.
Lon Oelke was subbing for Kossuth County Speedway’s regular announcer on July 15 when he told the crowd, “If you won’t stand for our flag, if you’re going to take a knee… I got four words for you: find a different country. If you won’t do it, get the hell out of dodge.”
“They’re going to have another national anthem for those folks for the, I guess, darker-toned skin color. You know what, I’ll just say Blacks, they want a different national anthem and the NFL is thinking about doing it. So I say shut the TVs off and let them play in front of nobody,” he added.
Kossuth County Speedway said in a statement Thursday that management was not aware of the announcer’s comments until a video later surfaced on social media. The racetrack said it does not condone the comments and an incident like it will not happen again.
The statement made clear that the track’s regular announcer, Chad Meyer, was not the one who made the comments. “Going forward, we will no longer be employing the individual who made those comments as a fill-in announcer at any of our track events.”
Lon Oelke is the regular announcer at Fairmont Raceway in Minnesota. He will “absolutely be announcing” Friday races at Fairmont, per promoter Jon McCorkell’s now-deleted Facebook post, saying he would get a standing ovation before the national anthem.
Betty Andrews, president of Iowa-Nebraska NAACP says she was shocked by the comments. “It just shows that people are kind of coming out of the woodwork, so to speak, to say these things, and and[sic] that, that’s part of what’s still disheartening,” she said. Adding that “certainly the speedway did the right thing” by firing Oelke.
Not everyone agreed with Andrews, however. “I think it’s bowing down to one or two crybabies,” says a longtime racing fan. “I don’t think it should have been meant towards the black people or anybody of any race, I think it should be meant towards anybody. You don’t stand for the flag and salute the flag and respect the flag, I don’t care what color you are, what nationality you are, you don’t deserve to be here, period.”
The Kossuth County Speedway said they will not be commenting any further on the matter. Lon Oelke could not be reached, as both his phone number and Facebook page have been shut down. Jon McCorkell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.