Bubba Wallace on Monday became the first Black driver since 1963 to win at NASCAR Cup Series level – this right before heavy rain stopped the Playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Wallace’s stunning performance also makes of him only the second Black driver ever to achieve the feat – after Wendell Scott did the same back in 1963. Interestingly enough, Scott wasn’t recognised as the winner of that particular race until only two months ago, when his family had been presented with the trophy.
Wallace Emotional After Win
Monday’s performance saw Wallace drive through a collision and all the way to the front of the filed only five laps before the race got stopped by a downpour for the second time. Although NASCAR officials tried to dry the track for 45 minutes after, the event ultimately got called off when the sun began to set with no signs of the rain dying down.
After the race was called, Wallace launched into a wild celebration with his crew at the top of his pit stand. This year is Wallace’s first competing for the Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin-owned 23X1 Racing.
After parking his No. 23 Toyota, Wallace could be seen breaking down with emotion. The number of the car was picked as such for Jordan, who wore the number 23 jersey during his time in the NBA.
He said after the race that his performance on the day was for the many kids who so strongly desired an opportunity to do and achieve something. He said the secret to success was to stick to your path while remaining true to yourself – come what may.
A Long Journey For Wallace
The sport and its fans haven’t always been kind to Wallace. In June last year, NASCAR officials discovered a noose in a garage stall with Wallace’s name on it. This discovery was made only a week after NASCAR announced its decision to ban the Confederate flag at its events – at Wallace’s insistence.
Upon investigation by the FBI, it was however discovered that the noose had been tied to the end of the garage door and had in fact been there for many months. Wallace was therefore not the victim of a hate crime over the removal of the flag, after all.
Clearly jolted by the incident, Wallace has referred to the incident surrounding the discovery of the noose as a particularly low point in his life and career. While Wallace never physically saw the actual noose, he said it marked a turning point for him.