Bubba Wallace ready to focus on racing, positive change

Bridget Condon Image
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Bubba Wallace ready to focus on racing, positive change
Bubba Wallace ready to focus on racing, positive change

As Bubba Wallace prepares for this weekend's race at Pocono, he's been the subject of a bigger conversation as the FBI investigation of a noose found in his stall at Talladega was determined to be not a hate crime and not directed at Wallace, NASCAR's only Black driver.

"Whether it was tied sometime throughout 2019 at the fall race there, someone did it with whatever intent they had," Wallace said. "We weren't in that garage stall at that time so we can't say it was directed at me, which is good, but somebody still knows how to tie a noose and whether they did it as a bad joke or not, who knows, but it was good for the public to see ... it still won't change some people's minds of me being a hoax, but it is what it is."

Wallace said that after seeing the video of Ahmaud Arbery's death something inside him changed. Since then he encouraged NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag and drove a "black lives matter" themed car.

"I don't know if anyone's inspired me," Wallace said. "I think it's just what I feel in my heart, what I feel is right and finally voicing my opinion on the tough subjects that a lot of people are afraid to touch on. The African American community, they've been crying out for a really long time and nothing's really changed. I think right now, me encouraging others, my colleagues, my competitors and my team, whoever it may be around me I may have an influence on, encourage them to speak up and step out."

NASCAR drivers Kyle Busch, left, and Corey LaJoie join other drivers as they push the car of Bubba Wallace to the front of the field prior to the start of the race at Talladega.
John Bazemore

The influence Wallace has had on NASCAR is visible - Monday, 39 NASCAR drivers and their crews pushed his car to the front of Talladega Superspeedway's field. Wallace, who became emotional after that gesture, said even drivers he doesn't typically interact with are reaching out.

"Aric Almirola sent a nice text right before all of that on Monday saying that we're not friends and we don't act like we are, but he will be proud to stand next to me as a brother in being human beings," Wallace said. "I thought that was pretty special."

Wallace wants to move on from the events that happened this week and focus on the message that "Black Lives Matter."

"Let's focus on racing. Let's focus on how we can continue to push the message of love, compassion and understanding," he said. "Let's help fight the good fight of what's going on in the world today. Let's get new fans out to the racetrack and encourage our fan base now to welcome them with open arms and show them a good time."