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NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace Six-Part Docuseries Is A Teaching Tool

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By Gary A. Johnson

It’s easy to teach someone if they know very little about the topic or subject at hand.  That’s the situation with me when it comes to NASCAR and driver Bubba Wallace.

There is a new NETFLIX six-part docuseries that captures Bubba Wallace’s rise in NASCAR called “RACE.”  I binge watched all six episodes.  The series traces Bubba Wallace’s rise to the elite ranks of NASCAR as the only current full-time Black driver in the Cup Series.  The series also traces his decision to speak out on racial justice issues and how he reluctantly grew into that role.

Like Jackie Robinson, Bubba Wallace was the right guy and the right time when the George Floyd murder galvanized the world to speak out against racial injustice and the innocent killing of black citizens.

The series features appearances by Wallace’s mother, sister, fiance, his team behind-the-scenes, (Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, NFL Hall of Fame Coach and 5X NASCAR winner Joe Gibbs and Richard Petty), as well as commentary from  former NFL player Michael Strahan, Jemele Hill and W. Kamau Bell.

I learned a lot from this documentary.  I did not know that Joe Gibbs Racing signed Bubba Wallace as a Development Driver.  I also learned about the importance of having the right pit crew and the role they play in a race.  I learned about the history of the Golden Glory Sweepstakes, which was a Black Racing Series started by a man named Charlie Wiggins. 

NBA great Michael Jordan’s stake as an owner in 23XI Motorsports, made a difference by helping to create jobs and opportunities for young black men and women to get into racing.  I will NEVER look at NASCAR the same way again.  I used to think of NASCAR as a bunch of “yahoos” making 4-left turns for hundreds of miles.  I now know that professional racing winners have teams and there is a strategy to racing.  You have to know how to “play the lines” on the “high side or low side.”  (Listen to me talk NASCAR).

Bubba Wallace’s position to demand that the Confederate flag NOT be flown at NASCAR races and his support of Black Lives Matter was and still is HUGE. 

I grew up knowing about the legends of the sport like Richard Petty.  I did not know that Richard Petty Motorsports supported Bubba Wallace when he wanted to drive a “Black Lives Matter” car.  Bubba’s pit crew has several former All American college football players.  I learned about “equipment interference” when a discarded tire in the pit accidentally rolled across the line into another pit crew space.  Those types of penalties really hurt the driver’s chance to win.

Wendell Scott, Bill Lester, Willy T. Ribbs and Bubba Wallace.  Wendell Scott was the first black driver to win a NASCAR race.

It costs on average of $20 Million dollars to run a NASCAR sponsorship.  I learned all of this, and I’m only on Episode 3.  I’m all in on this docuseries.  Sponsorship is the lifeblood of NASCAR motorsports and unlike his peers, until about 18 months ago Wallace did not have sponsors for every race.  Doordash was the first major sponsor.  They signed on for 7 races.  Then, sponsors such as Columbia, Dr. Pepper, McDonalds, PetSmart, DraftKings and other sponsors came onboard.

There’s a lot more to this documentary than racing.  Watching Bubba Wallace struggle with his fame and battle depression was tough.  I was riveted watching some of the racing footage.  This was worth my time.

If you’re still not sure.  Check out the trailer and these official preview clips below.

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