WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Bubba Wallace is the only full-time African American driver in NASCAR. Since the killing of George Floyd, Wallace has been the face of the Black Lives Matter movement in the sport. During the 2020 season, Wallace ran a special Black Lives Matter paint scheme at Martinsville Speedway to promote racial equality. He called out the stock car racing association to ban Confederate flags at its events, which they did.
Bubba Wallace is now looking into other ways to make NASCAR more diverse. Wallace teamed up with LEIDOS – A Science and technology leader based out of Reston, Virginia - to help change the culture in NASCAR.
"With all they do in the military field and embrace diversity and inclusion it aligns with our core values," said Wallace. "Kids that are looking up to me they might not want to drive necessarily, but they want to be part of the sport and want to see a familiar face on the pit crew."
Desira Stearns, the Strategic Diversity Outreach Director at LEIDOS believes this is a perfect partnership.
"Inclusion is the foundation, where you have people coming into an environment where they feel welcomed, they feel engaged and they feel connected," she said. "It's a common vision Wallace, 23XI Racing, and LEIDOS share."
In 2018, Bubba Wallace became the first African-American driver to compete full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series since NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Wendell Scott in 1971. In 2021, Wallace became the first African-American driver to win a Cup Series race since Scott won in Jacksonville in 1963.
Aside from Bubba Wallace, only seven Black drivers have ever participated in a top NASCAR race and Wallace believes NASCAR isn’t alone in its lack of diversity.
"I mean, not only NASCAR but every organization, every company in the world, sees now how big diversity is and it's sad that we've waited this long; but, it's also humbling to know that I'm one of the ones in our sport, and there are so many others that are in other leagues and other businesses."
Bubba Wallace is a graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Development Program, which was created in 2004 for female and ethnically diverse drivers and pit crew members who have the potential and determination to succeed at the highest levels of NASCAR. There are more than 55 graduates now working in NASCAR and more than 25 at the NASCAR Cup Series level. The program has a 100% placement rate and drives approximately $2 million in salary.
"I think the culture is changing. But having a set answer, you never really know. It's a journey. Because if you have an answer, then that means we have a destination," said Wallace. "I don't think this process ever has a destination. It's always a journey. And you're going to cross a path that you have to figure out how to navigate through."