Bubba Wallace made history on Monday by becoming the second Black driver to win NASCAR’s Cup Series race, their top racing series.
Wallace became the first Black person to win the Cup Series since Wendell Scott in 1963, at Jacksonville’s Speedway Park. Sadly, this was a race where he was not declared the winner until long after Buck Baker had already been awarded the trophy. NASCAR overturned the results upon realizing Scott was not given credit for two laps in the 100-lap main event. In August of this year, NASCAR finally presented Scott’s family with a custom trophy to commemorate his historical 1963 victory. Joining Scott’s family on stage for the occasion, was NASCAR’s lone full time Black driver, Bubba Wallace.
“Talladega we’re winners,” Wallace said in a video posted on the Alabama Talladega Superspeedway account, where Monday’s race took place. Wallace was born in Alabama and in June 2020, NASCAR discovered a noose in the garage stall assigned to him at the same track.
“It’s definitely been tough going to some of the tracks this year, we get some of the most boos now,” Wallace said. “Everybody says as long as they’re making noise that’s fine, but you know, I get booed for different reasons, and that’s the tough thing to swallow.”
Following an FBI investigation, it was found that the noose was tied at the end of the garage door pull and had been there for months, meaning Wallace was not a victim of a hate crime. Still, the series rallied around him and stood in solidarity with Wallace at the front of the grid before the race.
Wallace has called the noose incident a low point, and he has been subjected to online harassment that last year even included a tweet from then-President Donald Trump that falsely accused Wallace of making up the noose. Although Wallace never saw the noose and was only told about it by NASCAR president Steve Phelps after the FBI had been summoned to investigate, he has been accused by many in the public of orchestrating a hoax.
When asked what it meant to become the second Black driver to win the Cup Series race, Wallace emotionally said, “I never think about those things, and when you, when you say it like that, honestly it brings a lot of emotion, a lot of joy, to my family, fans, friends. It’s pretty damn cool.”