NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace is celebrating his recent, and historic, victory after becoming the second Black driver to win a Cup series.
Wallace, 28, came in first place at the Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 4. The Alabama native had made his way to first place just two laps before officials suspended the game, eventually calling the race after inclement weather continued, as Blavity previously reported.
Despite clinching the win, Wallace told Blavity the possibility of making history was far from his mind.
"Never thought about it," he said. "I've always wanted to go out and race and let everything set in place after that. The more I focused on that side of things never ended up well for me, so I just wanted to go out and drive."
But Wallace isn’t oblivious to the racist undertones in the sport. As one of the few Black drivers to enter NASCAR, he said although he was welcomed mostly with open arms, he also had a few naysayers. But he's not letting them control his narrative.
"If it's not the right environment, then I make it the right environment," he told Blavity. "I take it upon my shoulders and make it fun and not make it awkward. But that's when I start to read people."
And the critics haven’t stopped him from relishing in all that the sport has to offer and rising above adversity.
In 2020, amid the Black Lives Matter protests, Wallace found a noose in his garage stall ahead of the race at the Talladega Superspeedway, as Blavity previously reported. The rope was later determined to be a garage pull by the FBI.
Just a month later, he was booed while being introduced at NASCAR's Cup Series All-Star Race.
Now, the little boy who grew up racing go-karts says there's still a long way to go but he's optimistic for the future.
"We'll get to a good spot but I don't know if the work will ever stop," he said. "We're always working to find that answer so we continue to be kind to one another, listen to each other, understand one another and continue to be good to your neighbors, brothers and sisters. There's a lot of work that needs to be done, but we just have to roll up our sleeves and get to it."
As for how Wallace plans to celebrate his historic win and what he's looking forward to, he said he's just basking in the present.
"With success comes a lot of hard work, but I love where I'm at right now. Good spot in life, good spot mentally," he said.
Wallace's Talladega victory isn't his first historic win. In 2018, the then 24-year-old held the title for the highest-finishing Black driver in the Daytona 500.