Wendell Scott. Daryl “Bubba” Wallace Jr.
This is the complete list of black drivers to win a race in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Since coming onto the scene in the first NASCAR Series in 2018, Bubba Wallace has become one of the fastest rising stars not only in racing, but in all sports.
Far from driving him on the track, he did a lot to get the change out of him; Using his platform to draw attention to the social injustice taking place across the country, he played a critical role in NASCAR’s ban of the Confederate flag.
We caught up with the guy in Toyota’s #23 to talk about growing up in Alabama, his first win at Talladega, seeing the sport go after that and more.
and weave: She debuted with Michael Jordan 23 xi Racing team in late 2020. Even some of the greatest athletes say it looks like it flying When they have the opportunity to meet him. How was that first encounter?
Bubba Wallace: Honestly, it was really cool to be a part of MJ. Being under his care and really learning who he is as a person. I enjoy every conversation we have, every interaction we have… It’s so cool. I seldom get stars… I don’t know if I’ve ever done that. And to me, MJ is just another guy who is passionate about what he loves to do, is competitive and we share many of the same core values. So, it’s really cool.
and weave: What was your initial attraction to racing and who was the first person to put you behind the wheel?
black and white: Maybe my father. He had a buggy when I was a kid who would mess around with him and go racing on the weekends. Nothing serious. My dad’s side of the family raced in Nashville, he had ties, a bit too. So we had a few family ties, but nothing on that level. It was all just rooted level. So I say he’s the one who gets me in.
and weave: Growing up in Mobile, Alabama, what challenges did you encounter as you rose through the ranks of racing?
black and white: We were just competitors and wanted to win every race we were in, knowing this was a long shot at making it happen. We were able to have some really good seasons when I was a kid and some people didn’t like it… and they would do whatever they felt they could to try to bring us down and stop us from coming in. Whether it destroys us or calls us names. And I was too young to understand that, you know, I was running with the other kids I was friends with and the other runners…we were having a good time. Then we go racing, come home, show up again the next weekend and do it all over again.
and weave: Take us back to your first win in Talladega. You wait patiently under the tent waiting for an announcement after driving the last alert flag. The news comes through the speaker, what do you feel at that moment?
black and white: just a little bit of everything. Excitement and anxiety…just a huge weight has been lifted. Obviously, I wanted to win it straight and not because of the rain. But we all know how hard this sport is and how hard it can be to win. So, I’m thankful we were in the right place at the right time. You know, that’s the name of the game in some cases in our sport. Just proud of the team, and proud of myself, because we were finally able to win the Cup Series. I was beginning to think it wasn’t an achievable feat. Being able to check it off the menu was pretty cool.
and weave: What are some of your favorite things to do when you take your helmet off and you’re out of a fire suit?
black and white: Uh… nothing. [Laughs] To be completely honest with you. Stay home, be lazy, play some video games. just relax. The family side of things here with my dog and my fiancé has been really good and we both enjoyed life together. And that’s all I need.
and weave: Since George Floyd, you have been described as the face of diversity and inclusion in NASCAR. The sport has definitely made some good strides since I’ve been a part of it. But, what does the next level of progress look like to your eyes?
black and white: Umm… I don’t know. I mean, it’s great to see the Sanctions Authority do so much in so many different ways, and we’re celebrating Pride month This month, they launched a social post about it. I thought this was special. I mean, if you looked back a few years ago, I don’t think you would have seen that. I’m not saying the social post is doing any work, but there is a change there. There is progress being made to communicate that to the entire world, and the conversations are being brought back in the offices. So, this is what I see. I’m proud of our efforts…you don’t really know what exactly is next, you just have to be proactive rather than reactive.
and weave: You have been an alumni of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Development program that has created opportunities for men and women from different backgrounds to succeed at this level. How are you looking to drive that much forward for the next generation of the racing industry that may not have previously been represented in motorsport?
black and white: Yes, I think I keep doing what we’ve been doing on the racetrack and obviously get better results. We have a lot of speed…we’ve been in the top five in the last month or so. So, if we can continue in this trend for years to come, and be a household name because of our performance and results; Than I hope there will be a new influx of drivers, pit crew members, members of the media, whatever… who tried to follow in my footsteps and wanted to be a part of the sport for so many reasons. So, I think we just keep doing that and let everything else settle into place, and it will take care of itself.
Wallace also opens doors by extending his hand through them live to be different The foundation, which is formed to breathe new life into individuals trying to achieve their goals, regardless of their age, skin colour, disabilities or ambitions.
Live to Be Different believes that people can achieve anything they set their minds to, and strives to support these efforts.
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