Bubba Wallace wrote his name in the history books at Monday’s YellaWood 500 playoff race at the Talladega Superspeedway after he became the first Black driver to win a top NASCAR cup race since 1963.
According to Skysports, the 27-year-old driver was declared the winner after 117 laps. The event, which was initially slated to be a 188-lap race, was officially ended because of a rainstorm. Responding to his historic feat, Wallace said: “I never think about those things.”
“But when you say it like that, it obviously brings a lot of emotion, a lot of joy to my family, fans, friends. It’s pretty damn cool. Just proud to be a winner in the Cup Series,” he added.
Wallace overtook his competitors to occupy the first position on lap 113. And he held on to the lead before the race was ultimately ended because of the deteriorating weather conditions and pending darkness on the track. Wallace also drove in a race car partly owned by NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan and fellow race car driver Denny Hamlin.
“Part of me is sitting there waiting,” Wallace said about his team. “It’s not over with. If we go back to racing, that’s fine. But we had so many cool fans behind us in the pitbox just cheering for us so it kind of amped up the intensity a little bit but, man, so proud of everybody at 23XI (Racing).”
“I know a lot of history was made today, I believe, which is really cool but it’s about my guys, it’s about our team, it’s about what we’ve done,” he added.
“I appreciate Michael Jordan and I appreciated Denny for believing in me and giving me an opportunity. Like we talked, it is pretty fitting that it comes here at Talladega.
“This is for all those kids out there that want to have an opportunity in whatever they want to achieve and be the best at what they want to do. You always got to stick true to your path and not let the nonsense get to you and stay strong, stay humble, stay hungry.
“Plenty of times I wanted to give up. You surround yourself with the right people and it’s moments like this that you appreciate.”
Up until Wallace’s Monday victory, Wendell Scott was the only Black driver to win a race at NASCAR’s top level. However, Scott’s history-making feat in 1963 went unrecognized as he never got the trophy from his win. In fact, he wasn’t even declared the winner immediately after the race. And it was just recently that NASCAR presented Scott’s family with a trophy for his historic victory, Face2Face Africa reported.
And in what was a summer of racial reckoning last year following the death of Gorge Floyd, Wallace successfully pushed NASCAR to ban Confederate flags from all its races and venues. But a week after the ban, a noose was found in Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega – the same racing track on which he just coincidentally made history.