Bubba Wallace has found a way to drown out the noise in what’s become a chaotic NASCAR season for the Richard Petty Motorsports driver. He can slip on some high-end headphones, turn up the music, and concentrate on counting his money after signing an endorsement deal with Beats by Dre.
Bubba Wallace signs on with Beats by Dre
Bubba Wallace has had quite the week, beginning with a ninth-place showing in the NASCAR race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after starting in 17th position on the grid.
That was followed the next morning by President Trump tweeting that Wallace, the only black driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, should apologize for saying he was the victim of a hate crime last month at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway after a crew member found the end of a rope used to operate a garage door tied into a noose.
The discovery led to an outpouring of support for Wallace from drivers and teams, as well as adding to the tension of a country dealing with unrest following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. NASCAR reacted by banning the display of the Confederate flag.
A subsequent FBI investigation concluded that the rope had been there since at least October 2019 and that Wallace was not the victim of a hate crime.
In his tweet, the president termed the incident as a hoax and said it resulted in the lowest TV ratings ever. Wallace responded by denouncing “hate from the POTUS.”
Wallace implored his followers to “always deal with the hate being thrown at you with love.”
Apple and Beats by Dre show support
Bubba Wallace is 19th in the NASCAR Cup Series standings with no finishes in the top five and only four laps led this season. As such, he’d seem an unlikely candidate to pick up a midseason endorsement deal. But that’s what happened not long after the president’s tweet that was critical of Wallace.
Beats by Dre announced it had signed an endorsement deal for Wallace to help promote its products.
“We weren’t going to announce this until later this week, but hate cannot win the day,” the company wrote on Twitter. “No one should ever be asked to apologize for standing up for what’s right — we are proud to welcome @bubbawallace to the Beats by Dr. Dre family.”
Beats by Dre was started by rapper Dr. Dre and music executive Jimmy Iovine. They sold the company to Apple in 2015 in a deal valued at $3 billion.
Good for Bubba Wallace, but not for RPM
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The deal with Beats by Dre is a personal endorsement for NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace rather than a sponsorship of his race team. As such, it doesn’t undo the damage that Richard Petty Motorsports suffered this season from an incident involving Wallace.
Wallace and Clint Bowyer were involved in a crash during the early laps of an iRacing series race being broadcast by Fox Sports during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Boyer reacted to being moved out of line by Wallace by joking, “I got Bubba-ed!” I need a beer really badly.”
Wallace then quit, ranting on the stream, “That’s why I don’t take this (crap) serious. Peace out!”
He went on Twitter later to mock fans for taking iRacing seriously. That presented a problem for the team when sponsor Blue-Emu pulled its sponsorship of the No. 43, so closely associated with Petty himself throughout his storied career as a driver.
Blue-Emu executive vice president Ben Blessing reacted to being embarrassed by Wallace by immediately announcing that the driver was fired and would not be paid.
“We aren’t sponsoring Bubba anymore,” Blessing said. “Can you imagine if he did that in real life on a track?”