The controversial Westboro Baptist Church – known for its extreme prejudice of homosexuals and its conducting of anti-gay protests at various events, including funerals of American soldiers – will picket at the Kansas Speedway next month during a NASCAR weekend.
The WBC’s official website says that the church shall picket from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 21 before that day’s STP 400 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Church spokesperson Shirley Phelps-Roper first tweeted the news last weekend.
On March 9, motorsports blog Queers4Gears posted tweets from the WBC’s Margie Phelps that revealed a potential future protest of the series (WARNING: The preceding link contains language that may be offensive to some readers). However, those particular tweets did not disclose the location of a planned protest.
As noted at the time by both Q4G and SB Nation’s OutSports blog, a possible cause for the picket may be Q4G’s interview at Phoenix International Raceway with reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski. In that interview, Keselowski was asked if NASCAR was ready for an openly gay driver and if one would have trouble gaining acceptance in that world.
“I can’t speak for the fans, I can only speak for myself, but in this garage, if you can win, people will want to be a part of what you can do,” Keselowski responded.
The theory that his comments helped trigger the upcoming protest may be bolstered by the message that ends the notice of the protest on the WBC’s website: “God Hates Brad Keselowski!”
WBC leader Fred Phelps also communicated about the situation earlier this month, going so far as to re-tweet the OutSports pick-up of the Q4G interview while adding a hashtag and the message: “No wonder God kills & maims these idiot race car drivers & their fanatics on a regular basis!”
MotorSportsTalk continues its review of the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with a look at Ryan Briscoe. Despite not having a ride to start the year, Briscoe ended strongly courtesy of a series of strong runs at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Ryan Briscoe, No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
- 2014: 11th Place, Best Finish 4th, Best Start 4th, 1 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 12.8 Avg. Start, 10.6 Avg. Finish
- 2015: 18th Place (8 starts), Best Finish 5th, Best Start 2nd, 1 Top-5, 4 Top-10, 10 Laps Led, 17.8 Avg. Start, 12.0 Avg. Finish
For those who slag on Briscoe as being undeserving of top level equipment, his 2015 second half provided a friendly reminder of his overall ability level in what might be less than the best machinery.
Briscoe was thrust into the No. 5 car under trying circumstances to begin with, getting all of an hour’s worth practice replacing the injured James Hinchcliffe ahead of the Indianapolis 500. But subsequent drives on the ovals there, Texas, Fontana, Milwaukee and Iowa – even if the results were less than ideal – showcased a driver determined to show to the paddock he still had it, and then some. His defense against Juan Pablo Montoya in Sonoma was nothing short of brilliant, and courtesy of double points he actually finished ahead of full-season driver Stefano Coletti.
The Australian immediately gelled with the SPM team, engineer Allen McDonald and race strategist Robert Gue. He continues to prove he’s an asset, as he has enjoyed multiple opportunities to extend his career in various arenas of motorsport in both open-wheel and sports cars, the latter of which he won at both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Corvette Racing this year.
Following an early retirement for Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton has closed even more on his third Formula 1 World Championship.
View it above in the race recap from the 2015 Russian Grand Prix.