Listen to this article here
Bubba Wallace’s new Netflix series hopes to bring the Black community into his world of racing in NASCAR, a predominantly White sport.
“Race: Bubba Wallace” follows Wallace’s 2021 NASCAR season and his experience as a Black NASCAR driver. As the only Black driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, the docu-series examines his decision to be the voice of racial justice at a time when the tension was at a breaking point in society.
“There was the race this past weekend in L.A., the clash at the Coliseum,” Bubba Wallace told The Grio. “You know, the amount of support that was there was really cool. I mean, you had Reggie Bush, his family was there, Jemele Hill was there, Jermaine Dupri was there, Ice Cube was there. And then even just the fan base, the people in the stands watching the race was super dope to see. And so just the atmosphere was something that you definitely didn’t want to miss.”
During the 2021 season, Wallace became the second Black driver ever to win a 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.”
Bubba Wallace overcomes racism as elite NASCAR racer
Bubba 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,” Bubba 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.
— Talladega Superspeedway (@TALLADEGA) October 4, 2021
Black viewership of NASCAR has gone up in recent months. With NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan recently becoming a co-owner of the new 23XI team, which Wallace is now a driver for, interest amongst Black people is growing. The Netflix docu-series seeks to capitalize on that.
“If I sit there and take enough time to think about it, that’s like, yeah, I had a little bit to do with that,” Bubba Wallace said. “But at the same time, I feel like, you know, they’ve seen what NASCAR is just doing as a sport, and it’s not all about me and that they want to come support our sport as a whole. So, yeah, I think it’s special.”