23XI Racing and NASCAR’s only fulltime driver Bubba Wallace won the YellaWood 500 NASCAR Cup race in Talladega on Monday. Perhaps it was a big day for the 28-year-old since he was the first black driver since Wendell Scott in 1963 to win at the premier level of the sport.
Sunday being the biggest day of his career, a lot of trolls and hate came for him as he emerged as the race leader to win the Talladega cup race which was rescheduled and shortened due to the rainy and wet conditions. Some said the race was rigged and NASCAR called the race to favour Bubba Wallace.
Looking back, the black driver is not new to hate and trolls. Back in June 2020, NASCAR informed Bubba Wallace that a noose had been found in his garage stall at Talladega. This happened as he was waiting in his motorhome for a rainstorm to subside on the superspeedway. Wallace was led to believe that he was the victim of hate crime because neither did he step foot in the garage nor see the noose. Even the FBI who followed up the matter were called in by NASCAR.
After Bubba Wallace underwent the ordeal, some people still doubted him saying he somehow came up with the ‘hoax’ to get support during the nationwide racial reckoning after George Floyd was murdered. Others also hate him because he is vocal when it comes to social injustice. He successfully called on NASCAR to ban confederate flags in its events.
Denny Hamilin, the co-owner of 23XI Racing Team with Michael Jordan, advised Bubba Wallace to keep off social media for his mental wellbeing.
“People just automatically dislike me because I hired Bubba Wallace,” said Hamlin, a first-year team owner also who scoffed at the notion the race was fixed.
“I spend way too much money and these teams spend too much money to fix it,” the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said.
“Any time there’s unique circumstances, it’s fixed. When a team is close to winning a football game, they fumble on the one yard line, it’s fixed. It’s just (criticism from) someone that’s having a bad day.”
Wallace said after Monday’s race he had followed Hamlin’s advice several months ago and stopped reading social media.
“It’s helped out a ton. I would go and read the comments (and) after a bad race I would become one of those haters that doesn’t know anything. I would become one of them. Just start telling myself a bunch of dark thoughts,” Wallace said. “In high school, I was always worried about what other people thought of me. I finally let that go.
“I’m not going to be able to please everybody. Doesn’t matter if I won by a thousand laps or won a rain-shortened race, not everybody is going to be happy with it,” he said. “That’s OK because I know one person that is happy and that’s me because I’m a winner and they’re not.”