A 1969 Dodge Charger was once the star of one of network television’s most popular shows. Did you know that? The car, named the “General Lee” from The Dukes of Hazzard (1979 – 1985), was probably the most talented performer on that CBS comedy, which was set in a rural part of fictional Hazzard County, Georgia.

The Charger belonged to Bo and Luke Duke (John Schneider and Tom Wopat, respectively), a couple of good ol’ boys “fightin' the system like two modern-day Robin Hoods," as mentioned in the show’s theme song, performed by country star Waylon Jennings.

More than 25 years have passed since the show’s last episode,* but the “General Lee” is at the center of a controversy today, and it doesn’t involve fictional moonshiners and corrupt politicians.

It involves NASCAR and PGA Tour golf pro Bubba Watson.

It seems Watson was set to drive the “General Lee” Dodge Charger on a parade lap before the March 4 Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. But NASCAR and track officials canceled those plans because of concerns about a negative reaction to an image of the Confederate flag painted on the car’s hood, just as it was on the TV show.

"(The) Confederate flag is not something that should play an official role in our sport as we continue to reach out to new fans and make NASCAR more inclusive," NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said in a statement Friday.

While the flag may not be welcome in an official capacity in NASCAR, it often can be seen flying from fans' vehicles in racetrack infields.

Ben Jones, who played mechanic "Cooter" Davenport on Dukes and is a former Georgia congressman, said in a statement that “during this Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, NASCAR has chosen to dishonor those Southerners who fought and died in that terrible conflict by caving to political correctness and the uninformed concerns of corporate sponsors.”

Reached Friday at the Northern Trust Open golf tournament in Los Angeles, Watson said the car only has the flag on it because that's the way it looked on the show.

Watson recently bought the car at an auction for $110,000. He said he still will attend the Phoenix race and still plans to let NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin caddy for him in the Par 3 tournament at the Masters in April.

Just a couple of good ol’ boys, havin’ fun.



Now, some facts on the “General Lee:” It is a modified Dodge Charger that was driven on the show by the Duke cousins, Bo and Luke. It is known for its chases and stunts, especially high jumps, in almost every episode, and for having the doors welded shut, leaving the Dukes to climb in and out through the windows. The car's name is a reference to the Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and indeed the vehicle embodies the southern United States, sporting a horn which plays the melody from the first line of the song "Dixie.”

The television show was based on the movie Moonrunners, itself based on actual moonshine runners who used a 1958 Chrysler called “Traveler,” named after General Lee's horse. “Traveler” was originally intended to be the name of the Duke boys' stock car too, until producers agreed that “General Lee” had more punch to it.


*There was a movie version of The Dukes of Hazzard in 2005. Even though it earned over $110 million worldwide, it was a terrible film and will not be mentioned again.