Bubba Wallace believes NASCAR is changing for the better, but it will require fans to follow along. Unfortunately, he said, some fans are just “stuck in their ways.”
The 27-year-old recently discussed a number of topics on the Just the Sip podcast ahead of his first season as the top driver for the 23 XL racing team. Most notably, he talked about his work to address social justice issues and the backlash he’s faced.
Wallace, NASCAR’s only black driver in the top cup series, demanded racing officials ban the Confederate Flag from its races last year. NASCAR listened and banned the flag two days after he publicly called for it. And though his fellow drivers stood by him, there was some push back from fans.
“It’s sad to see that so many people are stuck in their ways and don’t want to change,” he told podcast host E!’s Justin Sylvester. “And hey, I’m guilty of being afraid of change. I mean, you tell me to try something different at a restaurant that I’ve been going to for years, no. I’m not gonna do it. I don’t care how good it is … But when it comes to things about your neighbors, about human beings and what’s right, it’s just like, why don’t you want to do due diligence? And why don’t you want to reach out and figure out, ‘Hmm, what is he really, actually talking about?’ instead of assuming things and thinking that it’s this, and thinking that it’s that, when it has nothing to do with what you’re thinking of.”
Bubba Wallace Knows He ‘Pissed a lot of People Off’
Bubba Wallace said the backlash was unfortunate, but it wasn’t going to stop him from standing up for his beliefs. He knows that he “pissed a lot of people off,” but it had to be done.
“At the end of the day, I’m just a normal Joe that likes to have fun and race cars for a living,” he said on the podcast. “And that’s what I try to come across as, but, hey, when you start to speak on things that affect you in real life, people hate that. So now I’m hated. Oh well.”
Wallace added that if those fans would stop attending races because of the flag ban, then so be it. NASCAR needed to grow and losing those fans wasn’t a bad thing.
NASCAR said in their statement that the flag ran contrary to the sport’s goals.
“The presence of the Confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry,” NASCAR wrote in a statement. “Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the Confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”
Bubba Wallace Starts New Journey With 23XI Racing
Wallace became one of the most talked-about drivers in all of motorsports last year. He’s once again the center of attention heading into the new season. Much of that is because of the excitement surrounding Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin’s 23 XI racing. The team recently announced its major sponsors for the season and its paint scheme to much fanfare.
Last month, Wallace said 2021 would be the year of “no more excuses.”
“There’s no more excuses why we can’t run up front,” Wallace said. “And compete for wins and show the true talents that I believe I have … If Jan. 1 was (the Daytona 500), then I’m ready for it.”