NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace is used to dealing with the boos at race tracks.
The boobirds were out in force for Wallace again Saturday at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Fans booed the 29-year-old driver during driver introductions before the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, then again after his fifth-place finish.
Afterward, a local TV reporter who doesn’t spend much time at NASCAR tracks seemed surprised by the boos and asked Wallace how they made him feel.
“That’s every week,” Wallace said. “It’s sports. It’s always going to be there.”
The reporter then asked, “The people who do the booing, what should they know about how that impacts you?”
“As long as you continue to live your life judging a book by its cover, that’s who you are,” Wallace said. “Don’t change it up for anybody else. That’s the biggest thing. That’s fine.
“I mean, I finished fifth, I got a good payday — I’m good,” Wallace concluded.
The boos for @BubbaWallace after today’s truck race & during driver intros were very loud at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
A @wsoctv reporter asked a great question about how/if that affects Bubba.
Wallace gave a great answer in return. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/0VDHtUZ7c0
— Noah Lewis (@Noah_Lewis1) May 20, 2023
That response hinted at a racial element to the boos targeting Wallace, who is the only Black NASCAR Cup Series driver. He’s the first full-time Black competitor in the series since Wendell Scott drove 50 years ago.
However, he’s also tangled with some other drivers and caused some accidents, which is a statement that applies to a couple of dozen other drivers in the garage, who also hear their share of boos from time to time.
Whether the boos are racially tinged or not, there’s no question Wallace is not a popular figure in the sport. One website did a deep dive last year into social media activity and determined that Wallace is by far the most hated NASCAR Cup Series competitor.
And the 10 most “hated drivers” and I find some of the names on this list plain odd. pic.twitter.com/b5sPk9lx0b
— Jenna Fryer (@JennaFryer) September 28, 2022
You have to admire Wallace’s response to the boobirds question. It’s worth noting that some NASCAR legends, including Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip, were once hated for their attitude and aggressive driving but eventually became huge fan favorites.