On Monday, Bubba Wallace became the second Black driver ever to win NASCAR’s Cup Series race, after Hall of Famer Wendell Scott won the race in 1963.
It was Wallace’s first Cup win in his 143 starts.
“Got some credibility to my name now,” Wallace said in a post-race interview. “I’m just like, ‘Finally I’m a winner and I’m a winner in the Cup level,’ and it’s just like hell yea! It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.”
Wallace overcomes racism as elite NASCAR racer
Wallace won the race at the same track where a noose was found in his garage the year before, prompting a FBI hate-crime investigation.
“It’s pretty fitting that it comes here in Talladega,” Wallace said.
The FBI determined that the noose had been in the garage since 2019 so it was not a hate-crime directed towards Wallace, but the damage was still there.
“It was a noose,” Wallace said. “Whether tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose. So, it wasn’t directed at me but somebody tied a noose. That’s what I’m saying.”
The noose was found just a week after NASCAR had banned the Confederate flag at its events at Wallace’s urging.
Wallace thanks supporters
Later in the year, Wallace signed a multi-year deal to be the first driver for the newly formed race team owned by Michael Jordan, NASCAR’s first Black majority owner.
“It’s definitely been tough going to some of the tracks this year, we get some of the most boos now,” Wallace said. “Everybody says as long as they’re making noise that’s fine, but you know, I get booed for different reasons, and that’s the tough thing to swallow. I appreciate all those who were there doing the rain dance with us, pulling for us, supporting me my whole career, but especially those who have supported me with everything that’s gone on the last 15-16 months.”
The rain dance Wallace refers to was the rainstorm that called off NASCAR’s rescheduled race and declared Wallace the winner. After Wallace had taken the lead in the race, rain paused the race. After about 45 minutes the race was eventually called and Wallace was declared the winner.
— Talladega Superspeedway (@TALLADEGA) October 4, 2021
“Talladega, we’re winners!”