Bubba Wallace has been racing automobiles since he was 9 years old, starting in Legends cars and working his way up to NASCAR’s Cup Series over the past decade and a half. His mother has been with him throughout the entire journey — through both the good and the bad.
Desiree Wallace on Monday detailed some of the bad during an interview with Joe Madison on SiriusXM Radio.
In the context of the noose that was placed in her 26-year-old son’s Talladega Superspeedway garage stall during a rain delay of Sunday’s Geico 500, Wallace was asked by Madison whether the incident of racism was her son’s first as a driver.
“To this magnitude, yes,” she responded. “But you know, since Bubba started racing at 9 … this is not his first incident. He’s been involved with incidents on the track. Like if he gets into it with another driver, they’re (quick) to throw out the N-word. He’s been told he doesn’t belong here. We’ve been through all that.
“The thing I teach my son is, you don’t throw back at them. You just get in that race car and win.”
Desiree Wallace did not provide additional details on when and how these slurs were directed at her son, who is the only black driver in all three of NASCAR’s national series.
After a few years of Legends and late model racing, Bubba Wallace made his NASCAR debut in 2010 when he was invited to participate in the K&N Pro Series East as part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. Two years later, he reached a national series with his debut in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (now Xfinity Series), notching three top-10 finishes in four races in 2012.
Wallace the next year became a full-time driver in the NASCAR Truck Series. His 2013 win at Iowa Speedway made him the first black driver to win a national NASCAR series race since Wendell Scott did so in 1963. He won four more truck races in 2014 before switching full-time to the Xfinity Series in 2015.
Wallace has been a full-time Cup Series driver since 2018. He has not yet won a race in that or the Xfinity Series.
Desiree Wallace also was asked Monday about her son’s reaction to the noose being placed in his garage stall, an incident that is being investigated by both the FBI and NASCAR. Bubba Wallace broke the news to his mother during a Facetime call Sunday.
“He called me yesterday, and he said, ‘Mom, there’s been a hate crime against me.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ And just the look on his face … I said, ‘What is it?’ He was like, ‘They found a noose in the car garage.’
“He looked so … at first he looked defeated. And so me as his mother, trying to collect my thoughts, trying to figure out, ‘How do I respond to my son who has just had such a heinous act against him, how do I respond to him?’ I said, ‘That was an act of fear. They’re more afraid of you than you are of them.'”
Bubba Wallace, who led a charge that prompted NASCAR’s June 10 decision to ban the Confederate flag from its events and properties, has received similar support from fellow drivers and others within the NASCAR community.
“The deal that happened yesterday, sorry I’m not wearing my mask, but I wanted to show whoever it was that you’re not going to take away my smile and I’m going to keep on going,” Wallace said after Monday’s rain-postponed race, standing in front of a crowd of supporters in the stands at Talladega.