A day after a noose was found in Bubba Wallace’s garage at Talladega, the racing world rallied behind him. Drivers and pit crew members pushed Wallace’s car to the front of the others on pit row before Monday’s race. Wallace broke down with emotion, and the moment became one of the most powerful in not only NASCAR, but in all of sports and the Black Lives Matter movement.
This past Monday, a light lit up the sports community at the Talladega Raceway. In the midst of a pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., who represents the number 43 on the side of his car, became a figure of light in this time of need. Wallace, the only African American driver in the NASCAR circuit, found a noose hanging in his pit garage the day before the race. Although recently proven by the FBI that this was not a hate crime, fans of the sports community took this matter into their own hands.
NASCAR has been making big strides as of late to be more inclusive of its drivers. One of the biggest changes they made recently was banning the Confederate flag at its events, which Wallace took a huge part in that initiative. NASCAR has had a reputation over the years of having racist fans but they are trying to quickly put that notion to rest.
NASCAR has also gained more black fans because of this. A clip at the end of the race where Wallace was interviewed had fans in the background stating that they drove all the way from Atlanta to watch the race. NFL players such as Alvin Kamara has voiced his support of NASCAR while Ravens’ Marlon Humphrey waved the green flag at the start of the race. Overall, NASCAR is leading the movement in change throughout the sports world at this time over way larger entities like the NFL and NBA.
As stated in the prelude, all of the drivers and every member of the various drivers pit-crews pushed Wallace’s 43 car to the front of pit row before Monday’s race. Once in the front row, Wallace exited the car and broke down in tears due to the actions of his fellow competitors. Towards the end of the night, Wallace ran out of gas during the final caution of the race when out of nowhere fellow driver Corey Lajoie, pushed his car to pit row so he could finish in 14th place. Not only were they doing this for him, but for this monumental movement.
What happened Monday was a glimmer of hope, a moment of magic, from a source we would have never imagined. This moment will be etched in not only sports history, but African American history. Wallace has quickly become one of the faces of the movement, something he probably never imagined. Whoever thinks they can break down this movement, are wrong. As Wallace said after the race on Monday, “You’re not going to take away my smile.”
“From Our Haus to Yours”