NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace says he is racially abused daily on social media

NASCAR

Bubba Wallace described the discrimination he faced - and still receives - as he worked his way up to top-level NASCAR racing

Bubba wallace

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Bubba Wallace, the only African-American driver in the top series of racing in America, revealed he has faced racial discrimination throughout his racing career, including from officials.

The NASCAR driver says that he continues to be racially abused every day on social media by users who hide behind anonymity.

Wallace was one of the first NASCAR drivers to speak up in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests that have swept the US, following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota on May 25.

“I get stuff all the time – ‘[That] I’m only here because I’m black, that if it wasn’t for the diversity programme, I wouldn’t be here and it’s funny because before I joined the programme I signed on for [NASCAR team] JGR,” he said in a conversation with fellow racer Ty Dillon, which was broadcast on Instagram.

“I know why I’m here. I’m, competitive. It’s every day on my mentions that I am here because I’m black. Its at the point where I just laugh…I have no control over that stuff.

“Its the people who have the egg picture as their Avatar so you don’t know what they look like. It’s just keyboard warriors that run their mouth. It could be little kids, it could be grown people.”

Since Wallace first spoke out in support of the protests, many other drivers, including Dillon, have offered their support. The discussion between the pair came after talks in private between them about the ongoing situation.

Dillon introduced the Instagram live video as a way of beginning a dialogue in efforts to learn and educate on the issue of racial inequality and perceptions of it in motor sport and broader life.

“The first instance that kind of came about, I think it was Legend Cars, I got wrecked leading and I rode by to the team hauler,” Wallace said. “I got back to the hauler and we were sitting there talking and my group of people, they were like ‘well it just turned worse because such and such’s dad just called you an ‘n’ word. I was 13 at that point and kinda knew.”

“Fast forward to UARA days, we were racing Kyle Grisham. He didn’t have anything to do with it, it was actually an official.

“Kyle and I got together in Turn One or something. We come back and another official comes up to us and says ‘I’m really sorry to say this but I’d heard one of the officials say “that n***** wrecked you” to the Grisham team’.

“My Dad was like, ‘well all right, that’s our last race in this series. Either you fire him on the spot or you’ll never see us again. And about 30 minutes down the road they were like ‘all right, we fired him so hopefully we’ll see you guys at next week’s race.”

Wallace also talked through his experiences suffering racial discrimination in his personal life away from the race track. He listed several instances of being profiled by police.

“I got pulled over a year ago… Three cops get out guns drawn. Not pointed at me. [I was] sitting there driving a Lexus, nice car, He was like, ‘Is this your car?’ I said, ‘Yep’.

‘Can you afford this car?’ ‘I said yes sir I can’ – with an attitude.

“It’s the way people say things. And that’s what triggers African-American people because we’re all the same. We don’t need the underlying smug remarks.”

Wallace is not the only black driver in motor sport to speak out. Lewis Hamilton has said that he is “completely overcome with rage” at the disregard shown to “those of us who are black, brown or in between”. He has called on those within Formula 1 to make their voices heard and further spread the message against racism.

Since then, multiple F1 drivers and his Mercedes team have made statements in support of protests in the United States and around the world.

Wallace also pointed out that he believed that peaceful protesters had every right to make their voices heard, and called out those who have exploited the situation to loot stores and businesses.

“I don’t believe that the violent riots and looting are the way to go,” Wallace explained.

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“I think that’s just like a cop-out for people to go get what they want without paying for it. But I do understand the anger, the frustration, the pain that the African-American community is going through.

“What really sparked me to be vocal, I don’t know if you’ve seen the Ahmaud Arbery video, I was sitting right here and was playing Call of Duty actually, and my cousin had posted to his Instagram and I clicked on it and could see it was another African American kid being killed. And I saw the video and I stopped playing, I sat up here until about 1:30am rewatching that video over and over again.

“My heart was broken. I was so mad at how that went down and just hearing it. Hearing the gunshots, I can replay it in my head. It was so sad to see that. That changed me on how vocal I need to be on things.”

Dillon added that he felt it was important to learn and speak out about the struggles and said discussions with Wallace had been eye-opening to him on the protests.

“If we don’t speak up on the things that matter and use what we’ve been given through our talents in racing to try to make a change in the world and to love other people, it doesn’t matter to us, it’ll all be for nought,” Dillon said.

“I never knew those stories that have happened to you, and it comes as a complete and utter shock that a cop can look and think of you that way. To me, that just seems strange.

“I know that that’s the pain I’m seeing on TV. That’s the hurt I’m seeing in so many people. Things need to change and it’s time for us to speak out and use platforms that we have.”

Wallace remains as the only African American driver racing full-time in NASCAR’s top three divisions, driving the No43 for Richard Petty Motorsports.