Ashley Welch and Hailey McDermott wore their opinions loud and proud while cheering on their fiancées at the Indy 500 qualifier at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Not Your Body, Not Your Choice,” read the women’s race day t-shirts.
The shirts were a response to the wave of restrictive anti-abortion laws passed recently in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Utah.
Welch and McDermott told the Indy Star they were nervous to wear the shirts as they didn’t want to take the focus away from their partners — Welch is engaged to 2017 IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden, and McDermott is engaged to 2016 champion Simon Pagenaud. Both Pagenaud and Newgarden are members of Team Penske. Ultimately the women decided they should use their spotlight to spread a message they believe in.
“I understand it is uncomfortable for us to speak our mind, especially about this right now, in the political climate we are in, that is not what we are trying to fight,” McDermott told the Indy Star. “But let’s make the people who have done this to us uncomfortable.”
Both women shared shots of their shirts on their Instagram accounts.
Traditionally, American race car driving is a conservative sport — with both fans and drivers leaning right. Perhaps this stand by Welch and McDermott’s is ushering in a new era.
As Welch said to the Indy Star, “I can never tell you how many people have given me fist bumps.”
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