Racism is rearing its ugly head in auto racing after Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, who is black, was jeered by fans in Spain, some of who dressed up in blackface (photo here).
"The truth is that I feel somewhat sad, I am in love with this country, and especially the city of Barcelona and this circuit, which is one of my three favorites," Hamilton said.
"The people in Spain have always been very warm with me, and even though I imagined what might happen it has not been pleasant."
The back story involves Hamilton, 22, having a falling out with a Spanish driver, but the level of racist abuse was uncalled for and has F-1 officials threatening to yank future races from Spain.
We have seen black soccer players suffer racism from fans in various European cities, which shows the ugly underbelly that can be found in fandom.
Piara Powar, director of the anti-racism campaigners Kick It Out, blamed the Spanish authorities for failing to respond to previous incidents of racism in sport. In November 2004 a number of leading black England footballers were subjected to monkey chants during a friendly with Spain. A month earlier the Spanish team coach, Luis Aragonés, was fined, but later cleared, after calling the French striker Thierry Henry a "black shit".
Spanish motorsports officials condemned the racist fans and Hamilton has been gracious, but the damage has already been done. –-Jim Buzinski