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Darrell Wallace, Jr.

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Drag Racing

Bubba Wallace
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Wikipedia: Bubba Wallace

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Full name: Darrell Wallace, Jr.
Born: 8 October 1993

A race car driver.

Subject:  Bubba Wallace
Photographer:  Zach Catanzareti
Event:  2019 GEICO 500
License:  Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.
View photo of Bubba Wallace at the 2019 GEICO 500 - 2.0MB

Biography

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Bubba Wallace page on 1 July 2020, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. is an American professional stock car racing driver. He competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Richard Petty Motorsports. Previously, Wallace was signed as a development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing where Wallace competed in the Camping World Truck Series, driving the No. 54 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He also raced in the Xfinity Series, driving the No. 6 Ford Mustang of Roush Fenway Racing, from 2015 to mid 2017. Wallace is noted for being one of the most successful African American drivers in the history of NASCAR.

In 2017, Wallace voiced the character Bubba Wheelhouse in the 2017 Pixar film Cars 3.

Reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement

After the death of George Floyd in May 2020 at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, Wallace began to speak up about the issue of abuse of African Americans by the police, becoming the face of stock car racing's involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement. On that following June 8, he called on NASCAR to mandate the banning of displays of the Confederate flag, which it had tried unsuccessfully in 2015 to request of its fans. On June 10, such a ban was announced by the association.

For the 2020 Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville, Wallace ran a special paint scheme to honor Black Lives Matter. The car featured an illustration of black and white hands interlocking together on the hood of the car, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on the side, and the phrase "Compassion, Love, Understanding" on both the hood and the back bumper. Richard Petty, owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, contributed to the livery by adding a peace symbol on the rear quarterpanel of the car that features hands of all colors circling inside the peace symbol. The livery was made after Richard Petty Motorsports failed to secure a primary sponsorship for the race. The team later suggested the idea to Wallace to run an all-black car to honor the movement. Wallace finished 11th after securing top-ten finishes in both stages, his career best at Martinsville in the Cup Series.

Noose investigation

On June 21, a member of Wallace's team reported to NASCAR that a noose had been placed in Wallace's garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway, which NASCAR president Steve Phelps relayed to Wallace in the evening. The organization condemned the act, calling it "heinous" and saying they would be consulting with law enforcement. Wallace stated that he was "incredibly saddened" by the "painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism", but also praising his fellow drivers that are "driving real change and championing a community that is accepting and welcoming of everyone". Prior to the GEICO 500 held the next day, the drivers in the race and their crews pushed Wallace's car to the front of pit road in a show of solidarity; the gesture had been proposed by fellow drivers Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick.

A day after the race, an investigation by the FBI concluded that Wallace was not the victim of a hate crime: the alleged noose was a pull-down rope with a loop that was located on an overhead door, and had been in the garage since the fall Talladega race in 2019. The FBI's determination led to people criticizing Wallace on social media as "fake" and questioning his integrity. Wallace stated in interviews that although he was relieved that he wasn't specifically targeted, he was frustrated by the backlash he received. He nonetheless vowed not to let the incident or the subsequent "hoax" allegations "break [him]". He added that regardless of "whether tied in 2019" or "wasn't directed at me, but somebody tied a noose".

On June 25, NASCAR released a photo of the noose taken by security. In a teleconference later that day, Phelps explained NASCAR had inspected every garage at the sanctioning body's 29 tracks, with 11 garages containing a pull-down rope but only Wallace's being tied into a noose. Although the individual responsible was unidentified, Phelps added sensitivity and unconscious bias training would be mandated for its personnel and that "Bubba Wallace and the 43 team had nothing to do with this."


Article Index

DateArticleAuthor/Source
8 May 2012NASCAR Media ConferenceDarrell Wallace, Jr.
1 September 2013NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Chevy Silverado 250Chad Hackenbracht
Miguel Paludo
Darrell Wallace, Jr.
26 October 2013NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Kroger 200Jerry Baxter
Kyle Busch
Darrell Wallace, Jr.
27 October 2013NASCAR Media ConferenceFranklin Scott
Wendell Scott, Jr.
Darrell Wallace, Jr.
22 June 2020Statement from U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town Regarding the Noose Found in NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace’s Garage at Talladega SuperspeedwayU.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Alabama
23 June 2020Joint Statement from U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr. Regarding the Noose Found in NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace’s Garage at Talladega SuperspeedwayU.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Alabama


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