Nascar still has a long way to go on its journey towards inclusion, but its only black driver has helped usher in an extraordinary week of change
It would be the height of understatement to say the previous week was hectic for Bubba Wallace. Hunkered inside an infield motor coach at Homestead-Miami Speedway hours before a Nascar Cup series race last Sunday, the Richard Petty Motorsports driver was still struggling for battery life amid a deluge of texts and tweets. “I think everybody was kinda shocked to see LeBron reach out,” Wallace says “I’ve been talking with Alvin Kamara, running back for the Saints. He’s out here for the race today. It’s been pretty cool to have some new support.”
Excessive attention is a given for any sports figure who accomplishes a lofty goal. But Wallace, of course, didn’t triumph in a race. No, he appeared on cable news and called on Nascar to ban displays of the Confederate flag; then, barely 48 hours later, he showed up to his next race, in a state that once was home to the seat of the Confederacy, with a Black Lives Matter-themed car. That night his demand for a ban on the flag was met. And though Wallace would finish no better than 11th in that contest, posterity will remember the Nascar statement he won as a sort of Emancipation Proclamation for the sport. That all these dominos could fall in fewer than 72 hours makes Wallace’s Gettysburg moment the fastest three days in stock-car racing history.