If you try knocking NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace down, just know that he’s going to get right back up.
Wallace already faced a challenging 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic and its impacts on daily life. The only Black driver in NASCAR’s top series, Wallace used this year to become a social justice icon and voice of the people, both in and outside of motorsports.
In a recent interview, Wallace addressed NASCAR’s diversity issues and added that he feels the sport is being “more inclusive.”
Bubba Wallace has had a difficult 2020
As the lone active Black driver in NASCAR’s Cup Series, Bubba Wallace already had a unique voice.
Wallace found his voice amplified amid social justice events, including national protests after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in police custody earlier this year.
Wallace found himself in a national, race-related controversy of his own. The FBI and NASCAR found a rope fashioned like a noose in Wallace’s garage stall ahead of the Geico 500 in Talladega.
According to Sporting News, the FBI determined Wallace was not a victim of a hate crime.
On the racetrack, Wallace finished 22nd in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Wallace has become a social justice icon
Bubba Wallace has fully embraced using his voice to promote change and speak out against injustices.
Wallace wore an “I Can’t Breathe / Black Lives Matter” shirt before a race in Atlanta in June. He also appeared on CNN to demand NASCAR ban Confederate flags.
NASCAR banned the flags a few days later.
Wallace frequently had #BlackLivesMatter on his car and equipment. When Wallace raced at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, he finished No. 11 — the best finish of his career — in an all-black car with the hashtag.
In a June essay posted on The Players’ Tribune, Wallace said becoming a social activist “energized him.”
“Listen, I’m new to all this. I’m still learning. But I’ve never been the guy to follow the crowd because it’s safe or easy, and I’m not going to start now, ” Wallace wrote. “We’ve got a lot of work to do — but I’m ready for whatever.”
Bubba Wallace believes NASCAR is ‘more inclusive’
Bubba Wallace has made it clear on multiple occasions that he feels NASCAR still has plenty of progress to make when it comes to inclusion.
In a recent interview with People magazine, Wallace acknowledged he is pleased with NASCAR’s attempts at inclusion and diversity.
“I feel that overall we’ve made the sport more inclusive for people that may not otherwise have felt completely welcomed. Hats off to NASCAR, and everything they’ve done to help create change and welcome the new fan base.”
Wallace elaborated on the idea of NASCAR having a diverse fan base and how the sport has tried addressing those goals.
“We want all people — current, future, and past generations — to know that you’re always welcome at a race,” Wallace said.
Barring any cancelations, the 2021 NASCAR season is scheduled to begin in February. Wallace will have an opportunity to continue climbing the Cup Series standings and inspire fans in the process, both with his driving and his voice.