Darryl “Bubba” Wallace is probably the most successful and impactful African-American driver in NASCAR history and he’s been a pioneer and blessing in further inspiring NASCAR’s D4D (Drive For Diversity) and Diversity Internship programs and introducing a new culture to the sport. He’s a country boy celebrity who has introduced Nascar to the urban dynamic.
It’s a shame that instead of celebrating all of his accomplishments, he is still addressing bigotry within his own sport. During a virtual race on Twitch on Sunday night, NASCAR driver Kyle Larson was caught dropping the “n-bomb”. Larson is white and NASCAR suspended him indefinitely on Monday. Right before the official NASCAR suspension, Larson’s race team suspended him without pay.
Wallace, of course, was forced to respond and he not only denounced racism in sports, but also forgave Larson and even spoke to him personally.
Wallace holds records for highest finishing African-American in the Daytona 500 (2nd, 2018), highest finishing African-American in the Brickyard 400 (3rd, 2019), first African-American to win in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series (Martinsville, 2014) and youngest driver to ever win at Franklin County Speedway (15 in 2008).
Wallace’s forgiving grace doesn’t change the fact that this is not the first time the 26-year-old’s had to respond to racism in the Nascar community.
In October of 2017, Wallace Jr. became the first full-time African American NASCAR Cup Series driver since the legendary NASCAR Hall of Famer Wendell Scott in 1971. Richard Petty Motorsports, a full-time competitor in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series named Wallace as the 2018 driver of the legendary racing icon Richard Pettys No. 43.
The win for diversity in NASCAR was sullied when a Cambridge (Wis.) High School coach named Brent Nottestad posted several tweets commenting on Richard Petty Motorsports blessing Wallace with the No. 43 car.
One of Nottestad’s tweets included a reference to Wallace’s grandmother, who died last year: “Granny Jan die in a police shooting?” Nottestad also tweeted: “Hey @BubbaWallace. Please quit with, ‘I’m black’ bs. You’re terrible. There are 1423 more credible drivers to get that ride than you.
The number 1423 is often used by the Southern Brotherhood, the largest white supremacist prison gang in Alabama, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Nottestad, 42, also wrote in reference to a photo of Wallace posing with a white fan: “Almost looks like going to the zoo.”
The Cambridge News reported Nottestads resignation shortly after meeting with school officials, but the damage had been done.
Bubba got past that moment and he will get past this one with Larson too. It’s just a shame that in 2020 we still have so many closet racists. As usual, the Black man has to be the diplomatic one and forgive the bullsh*t. Let’s hope Larson learns a lesson and people stop downplaying how vile and unacceptable his language was.