Bubba Wallace is going to be driving a Black Lives Matter car at Martinsville
On Wednesday night, Bubba Wallace — the only black driver currently racing in NASCAR — will be hitting the track in Martinsville with his fellow drivers.
But he hopes to do more than just win a race.
Wallace, NASCAR’s only current Black driver, and his team, Richard Petty Motorsports, unveiled a special car for Wednesday night’s race. Instead of the usual advertising, this vehicles calls attention to recent anti-racism protests and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The car says “#BlackLivesMatter” over the rear wheel, while the hood and the bumper are decorated with the phrase “Compassion, Love, Understanding.” The top of the hood shows an image of white and black hands interlocking.
NASCAR: Why is Bubba Wallace driving a Black Lives Matter car?
“I think its gonna speak volumes to what I stand for,” Wallace said in a video shared on Twitter.
Wallace, who has spoken out in support of the ongoing protests to end police brutality, explained that he came up with the idea for his car on last Tuesday’s day of social media protest.
“It was actually on Blackout Tuesday, which was a special day and a big day for our country, seeing millions of people peacefully protesting. We knew that the Martinsville race was open, we did not sell sponsorship for that, and it sparked an idea of ‘Why not run a blackout car?'” Wallace said. “Our team brought that idea to me and I jumped all over it.”
This isn’t the first time Wallace made headlines this week. On Tuesday, he called on NASCAR to ban confederate flags from league events. In 2015, NASCAR encouraged fans not to bring confederate flags to the track, but they did not go so far as to ban them.
NASCAR spent most of their pre-race show in Atlanta discussing and honoring the anti-racism protests that have spread across the nation. Before the start of the race, NASCAR President Steve Phelps made this announcement to drivers.
"“Thank you for your time. Our country is in pain and people are justifiably angry, demanding to be heard. The Black community and all people of color have suffered in our country, and it has taken far too long for us to hear their demands for change. Our sport must do better. Our country must do better. The time is now to listen, to understand, and to stand against racism and racial injustice. We ask our drivers … and all our fans to join us in this mission, to take a moment of reflection, to acknowledge that we must do better as a sport, and join us as we now pause and take 30 seconds to take a moment to listen.”"
NASCAR has a history of being a sport filled with mostly white men. Their support for the Black Lives Matter movement is already seeing pushback on social media. But hopefully, NASCAR truly is taking this time to listen and learn. And maybe, in time, we’ll see the lessons they learned reflected in the people who drive their cars.