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By Tony Lesesne
On the Track is a weekly blog/video series within the AutoFOCUS World program schedule focusing on motorsports racing with new minority audiences and future fans in mind. With coverage and helpful insight for new fans of color, On The Track highlights F1, NASCAR, F-Drift, Indy Car and other leagues.
PART 1 HISTORY MADE AGAIN BUT NOT SILENT LIKE BEFORE
Wallace in the 23 car (below) in crowded lanes at Talladega Superspeedway during his historic win
A huge historic event happened on October 3rd at the YellaWood 500 in Talladega, Alabama and we’re betting that most Americans, including Black Americans missed it. On Sunday NASCAR held its annual Talladega speedway race at one of the biggest fastest tracks on the circuit. For the first time in modern NASCAR history, a black driver won a NASCAR race. Bubba Wallace driving the 23 car owned by Michael Jordan and Superstar driver Denny Hamlin won the Talladega race on Sunday October 3rd 2021. The date will be one for the ages in the NASCAR history books and is considered one of the highlights of the 2021 year in sports. The impact could be immeasurable as younger drivers and fans see a role model outside of football, basketball and baseball. Like a growing legion of others, Rajah Caruth, an aspiring race driver said he has found a role model in Wallace. He's been a good role model, a really good role model and an ambassador for the sport" Caruth said of Wallace. He's been a really good person to look up to in terms of how to carry myself online and at the racetrack, how to treat people; how to deal with criticism and mean people.
Getting new African-American audiences to the track (pictured above)and to the sport is nothing new to us. For more than two decades we have built string relationships with communities of color and connected them to our advertisers and partners in the automotive industry, some of which have cars on the NASCAR circuit, including Ford and Toyota. From Miami to Daytona, the Glenn to Las Vegas and lots of action in between, we're excited to bring you insight into the thrills of racing. You deserve it.
Before this post and web series you'll watch, we're pretty sure the NASCAR has been virtually invisible in most Black communities, settings and its various cultures. Here we are once again delivering a new and thrilling experience. Our media outlets and activations are addressing this reality with a dynamic schedule of media coverage, exposures and more. We will see if NASCAR will choose to support our efforts and encourage you as a potential fan to open your mind to one of the most electrifying sports in the nation; an action-oriented team event with track outings and entertaining options.
Who is Bubba Wallace and how did he get here?
Wallace has been the only full-time African American driver in NASCAR's three national series (Cup, Xfinity, and Truck) each year he has competed in them. He is the only African American driver to win more than once in any of these series, which has made him one of the most successful African American drivers in the history of NASCAR. Now you know, so tell somebody! Then bring them back here to us.
Wallace started racing in the Bandolero and Legends car racing series, as well as local late model events, at the age of nine. In 2005, he won 35 of the Bandolero Series' 48 races held that year. In 2008 he became the youngest driver to win at Franklin County Speedway in Virginia In 2010, Wallace began competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Wallace drove for Rev Racing as part of NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program and was signed as a development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing. He won his very first race in the series, at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, becoming the youngest driver ever to win at the track and the youngest. He also won later in the year at Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire and won the series' Rookie of the Year award, the first African American to win the award in a NASCAR series. In 2011 Wallace won three races (Richmond, Columbus and Dover.
Each weekend, Wallace competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the No. 23 Toyota Camry for 23XI Racing, as well as part-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, driving the No. 11 Toyota Tundra for Spencer Davis Motorsports. Wallace is also an Alabama native, so winning at Talladega was like coming home. But it wasn't easy and it hasn't been a smooth ride for one of NASCAR's most popular drivers, who just happens to be Black.
In part 2 of this five part series, we take you to the real forces that led to Bubba Wallace's successful trajectory. Stay tuned and be sure to watch each video web show in the topic. Follow AutoFOCUS on instagram and Twitter @AutoFOCUSWORLD
Images courtesy NASCAR.