Bubba Wallace, the lone Black driver competing full time in NASCAR at the national series level, took to Twitter on Thursday night to say that the sport’s drivers remain committed to fighting racial inequality, even though they’ll be racing Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.
Teams from the NBA, WNBA, MLB and MLS have all postponed games this week as players across the sports landscape reacted to the weekend shooting by police of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin. Blake was shot seven times by police Sunday as he attempted to enter the driver’s side door of his vehicle with three of his children inside. Video of the shooting was distributed on social media, sparking more protests and causing more athletes to speak out or take action.
As part of a series of tweets, Wallace made it clear taking to the track in Florida doesn’t mean the support of drivers for social justice has waned.
I hope you all understand that by us continuing to race this weekend, DOES NOT mean we are stepping down and turning away from the dark and evil acts that have taken over our nation. Absolutely NOT!!!
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) August 28, 2020
Wallace was in the national spotlight in June, when he said during an interview with CNN that NASCAR should ban the Confederate flag from all of its tracks. Two days later, NASCAR enacted a ban, saying the flag at its events “runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry.”
Some, though, took umbrage at the decision and voiced their displeasure with Wallace on social media.
Eleven days later, Wallace was back in the spotlight after NASCAR announced that a noose had been found in his garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
The following day, Wallace was joined by all 39 other drivers and their crews in a march down pit road as they pushed his No. 43 to the front of the starting line in the moments before the race. When the group reached the front line, Wallace climbed out of his car and wept.
“This sport is changing,” Wallace said after the race. “The prerace deal was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to witness in my life. From all the supporters, from drivers to crew members, everybody here, the badass fan base, thank you guys for coming out. This is truly incredible, and I’m glad to be a part of this sport.”
A day after the race, NASCAR announced that the FBI had determined that Wallace was not the victim of a hate crime and that a pull rope fashioned like a noose had been on his garage door at Talladega since as early as October 2019, when the previous Cup Series race had been held at the track.
Drivers remained strong in their support after the investigation’s findings were announced, and Wallace says nothing has changed in the interim.
“I can assure all of you that myself and many of my competitors are continuing to work hard with NASCAR to continue the efforts and the fight for racial equality,” Wallace wrote in another tweet Thursday. “Let’s stand or kneel TOGETHER and continue push for what’s right. Love. Compassion. Understanding[.]”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.