MIAMI (WSVN) - As Black History Month puts the spotlight on Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., he hopes that he can be recognized as just another NASCAR driver.
Wallace, who visited Miami this past week as part of Black History Month, said racing on this level comes with a responsibility.
He said he’s aware that his experience in today’s NASCAR is unlike the rest of his peers.
“It’s life. Once you become this face in an area that normally people wouldn’t look at, there comes a pressure,” he said, “so it’s all on how I deal with it.”
The 25-year-old took part in a walking tour of Miami’s historic Overtown neighborhood.
“As many times as I’ve been racing here in Homestead, I’d never heard of this,” he said. “and it makes you open your eyes more and open your ears more and listen to the history and become more involved in the community.”
Wallace is only the second African-American driver to ever race on the sport’s highest level full-time. He finished second at the 2018 Daytona 500.
The star racer has been embraced by fellow drivers and fans — but then there’s social media.
“People will reach out and sit behind their keyboards and send out the hate,” he said, “and you have to do your best that, do you want to stoop to their level, or do you want to take the high road out and be the classy guy that you’re told to be?”
Wallace doesn’t consider himself a pioneer. For him, that word applies to Wendell Scott, who raced in the Cup Series in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Scott faced racism from drivers and fans, but Wallace’s team owner, Richard Petty “The King,” was the one driver who helped Scott.
“For Richard to reach out and to lend out parts that he no longer needed, Wendell Scott used [them] and had a career in it,” said Wallace.
Wallace admitted he’s brash but has a Southern charm that makes him a fearless contender on the racetrack. He’s about to start his second season of Cup racing in the No. 43 that once belonged to Petty.
“For me, I always try to walk the same line that I walked before I became who I am,” he said. “I still think I’m the same 9-year-old, buck-toothed kid that just got started in racing.”
Now Wallace sets his sights on being the first one to zip through the finish line at the Daytona 500 next Sunday.
“End goal is, let’s go out and win the Daytona 500 and let all the media and records and barriers be broken and settle in after that,” he said.
Wallace will be at Thursday’s qualifying race to determine where we will start on the day of the race.
Catch the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 17, right here on 7, beginning at 2:30 p.m.
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