Bubba Wallace was called racial slur on racetrack at age 14, cops pulled him over due to expensive car: Family
At 18, Wallace was pulled over for not using his turn signal and was asked by officers if he could afford the car he was driving
Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in NASCAR's top series, reportedly dealt with racism his entire life. Wallace's family reportedly detailed multiple instances of racism the race car driver had to face on his road to NASCAR, including an instance that occurred when he was in middle school.
Wallace, who began competing in car races when he was nine, reportedly heard a racial slur while he was at a racetrack, according to the Charlotte Observer. Wallace was just a child back then and had to ask his parents what the slur meant. The NASCAR driver's mother, Desiree Wallace, stated that a similar incident occurred a few years later when the budding driver was 14 years old. Desiree said during a race at Franklin County Speedway in Callaway, Virginia, several people repeatedly hurled the same racial slur at her son, 14 at the time, after he made a shifting error that inadvertently knocked a local-favorite driver out of the race.
"I just told Bubba, ‘The best thing for you to do is just to go out there and win, because people are going to feel the way they feel. And there’s nothing that you can do about it,’” Desiree recalled. She said that she reminded him: “When they see you, they see you as a Black driver, period."
The revelation came after Wallace, last month, had called on the stock car racing association to ban Confederate flags at its events. The race car driver, in a statement to CNN, had said: "No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. It starts with Confederate flags." The Confederate flag, which was used by the seceded Southern states or the Confederacy during the Civil War, is controversial in the United States due to its longstanding associations with racism, slavery, segregation, and white supremacy.
The NASCAR driver, while appearing on Dale Earnhardt Jr’s podcast in June, had also talked about getting pulled over by the cops when he was 18. Wallace, who was involved with the NASCAR at the time, was pulled over for not using his turn signal and was asked by officers if he could afford the car he was driving.
Desiree, while referring to the incident, told the Charlotte Observer, that Wallace's father, Darrell Wallace Sr, who is White, disagreed with his son's account but was upset that police searched his son's car without cause. Desiree, who is Black, however, told her son that he did the right thing by not protesting as it could have led to a worse situation at the time. “That was the first time that I had to tell my husband, ‘You will never know or understand what it’s like to be Black.’ That was the first real conversation that we had about race," she said. "And I told Bubba, ‘Unfortunately, this was your first time with the racial profiling. But it’s not gonna be your last time.’ I think it was like a wake-up call for him.”
Wallace's parents divorced when he was young. Desiree also talked about President Donald Trump's tweet about her son, falsely claiming the noose found in Wallace’s garage stall was a hoax. The FBI and NASCAR have confirmed the noose’s existence, although the former did not consider it a hate crime, citing that the rope was just a garage pull.
Desiree said she could not initially believe that Trump's tweet was real initially and had urged Wallace to not respond to the president. Wallace's father, Darrell, however, responded to Trump on Twitter, calling him an "idiot."
NASCAR, on June 25, however, had released a picture of the suspected "noose" found in Wallace's garage stall at Talladega on June 21, declaring that "the noose was real". The incident was investigated by the FBI for possible hate crime before they revealed that the "noose" was a garage door pull-down rope that was in place for nearly a year. The pictures released by NASCAR show a long rope fashioned into a loop, however, with one end of it coiled around the knot. The images released by the company "have a striking resemblance to a noose." NASCAR, along with the FBI, on June 22, had launched an investigation into the matter and had revealed that a White driver, Paul Menard, had also used the rope previously in the same stall in 2019.