Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. was booed during NASCAR’s All-Star Open on Thursday (July 16) at Bristol Motor Speedway. Fans also cheered once he crashed his race car. Even with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 20,000 fans gathered for the main event.
For those who do not follow the sport, he is the only African American driver in the top level of NASCAR. He was also the center of the racism controversy.
What Happened During the Race
Seventeen laps into the race, fellow driver, Michael McDowell, hit his car causing Wallace to spin out.
“Just disrespect,” Bubba told TMZ after the race. “When you get hooked right rear into the wall, I don’t even need to see a replay. Look at that s–t. Yeah, wow.”
“People say he’s one of the nicest guys in the garage,” he added, seemingly referencing McDowell. “I can’t wait for the God-fearing text that he is going to send me about preaching and praise and respect. What a joke he is.”
The Crowd’s Reaction to Bubba Wallace
Associated Press reporter Jenna Fryer tweeted live updates during the big day.
Fryer revealed that even though the confederate flag is banned at all races and events, fans still displayed it. “FWIW, in addition to Confederate flag flying over Bristol there was another hanging off a balcony of a condo across from the main entrance as well as others along Speedway Blvd.,” she wrote. “Spoke to fan @Matt2Harrison and he said he say many flags on shirts and other items in stands.”
“Bubba Wallace was also booed when he was introduced, and many cheered when he crashed,” she wrote. “NASCAR still has a lot of work to do to back up its position. The group Justice 4 Diversity held signs along Speedway Blvd. after the race.”
The Confederate Flag Ban
Wallace told The New York Times that his father was especially worried about his safety after speaking out for the ban on confederate flags. “He was proud of what I was doing on and off the racetrack, but he was worried about safety, going out in public and whatnot,” he said. “It’s just crazy you have to worry about that side of things. Definitely got to watch your back now.”
He added, “To you, it might seem like heritage, but others see hate. We need to come together and meet in the middle and say, ‘You know what, if this bothers you, I don’t mind taking it down.’”