A new franchise called “Inspiring America” from the Today team is a new annual prime-time event. The goal is to focus on people making an exceptional impact on their communities. In the NASCAR community, Bubba Wallace has been making quite the impact.
The first list included people like Lin-Manuel Miranda (creator of “Hamilton”), Becky Hammon (San Antonio Spurs assistant coach and also the first woman to act as head coach in the NBA), José Andrés (founder of World Central Kitchen), and Claire Babineaux-Fontenot (the CEO of Feeding America).
Bubba Wallace ‘2021 Inspiration List’
Also joining that list of remarkable and influential people is NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace. Today at 8 p.m. ET, “Inspiring America: The 2021 Inspiration List,” will air for the first time. You can watch it on NBC today. It will also broadcast on Sunday on MSNBC at 10 p.m. ET. Otherwise, it’s available to stream the next day on the NBC News Now app.
In a recent interview with Craig Melvin, Bubba Wallace talked about making it in what he called a “fairly white” sport. Responding to the question, Wallace claimed that he “didn’t need representation to become a part of the sport.”
He said, “The whole black-white deal, I don’t see it. It’s just drivers.” He claims that the lack of diversity is not something he let keep him from the sport. Wallace also said he doesn’t often think about the fact that he happens to be the only Black driver in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“Love wins every day. There’s a lot of hate in this world. A lot of things … but at the end of the day, if we can come together and show so much love, compassion, and understanding, we will get to a much better place …” Wallace said in a recent interview on the Today show.
Netflix Documentary and Activism
In addition to being honored on the 2021 Inspiration List, Wallace is also getting a Netflix documentary. The series is in production and will focus on his alignment with 23XI Racing alongside Michael Jordan.
Netflix says “the series will take viewers behind the scenes of the 2021 NASCAR season through the eyes of the only Black driver at the top level of the sport, and will explore Wallace, 23XI Racing, and NASCAR’s efforts to advocate for inclusion and equality in racing and beyond.”
Bubba Wallace has long been outspoken about diversity both on the track and off the track. He told For The Win in 2017 that, “There’s not much diversity in the sport, so it has to be talked about by (us). We all carry that diversity flag with us, and you can count on one hand how many people that is, so it definitely needs to be talked about from the behind the wheel aspect.”
He has also been very active regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. He called on NASCAR to stop allowing the Confederate flag to be flown during events. NASCAR did ban the flag at all events on June 10, 2020.
During the 2020 Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 race at Martinsville, Bubba Wallace had a Black Lives Matter paint scheme. The phrase “Compassion, Love, Understanding” was painted on the hood and back bumper. He has been incredibly vocal regarding the movement on social media and in interviews. He has been a key figure in bringing that conversation to the NASCAR track.
Now he’s being honored alongside other influential individuals on the “2021 Inspiration List.”