Interview: Darrell Wallace Jr Speaks on Diversity & Being an African-American in NASCAR
Darrell Wallace will make is NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Iowa Speedway May 20, 2012, on ESPN—one of the most anticipated in NASCAR history. Darrell is arguably the most promising NASCAR Drive for Diversity program graduate in the programs nine years history. Drive for Diversity is the industry’s leading development program, providing opportunities to minority and female drivers and crew members. In 2010, while still a member of D4D, Bubba became the youngest drivers and only African American to ever win a race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, which led to him being named series Rookie of the Year. In 2011 Wallace won three K&N Series East races for Rev Racing and was runner up in points for the year. These exploits earned Darrell a ride with the legendary, Joe Gibbs Racing team. Darrell has started the 2012 season strong with a win in the second race of the year and is well positioned for his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut.
BSO had a chance to speak with Wallace Jr about the Diversity and his future in NASCAR.
BSO: Do you feel any pressure going into your first Nationwide race?
DWJ: A lot of pressure, this is something I have been working towards for a long time. One part of me is very excited and another part just want to prove to people that I belong. But, I have a great team that has me prepared.
BSO: Speaking of your team, you are with Joe Gibbs Racing one of the biggest and most well known NASCAR teams around, how have they been getting your prepared.
DWJ: They have so much knowledge, I am just trying to absorb it all. I have complete faith in my crew and crew chief, so from that standpoint I am very comfortable and confident. I can just concentrate on driving the car.
BSO: You are the star pupil from NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program can you tell us a little about that.
DWJ: This is a hard sport to get into, especially for minorities so the program was great for me. It provides a support system and a way to get our names out to the fans and media.
BSO: During the program you have a chance to meet the family of the only African American racer to win a Sprint Cup race Wendell Scott, how was that experience?
DWJ: It was amazing. Just hearing the stories, things were a lot different back them, but I learned so much from the family, Mr. Scott is definitely an inspiration.
BSO: Do you feel like Mr. Scott you are a trend-setter for the sport of NASCAR being African-American?
DWJ: Maybe not a trendsetter, but I do hope that I draw more minorities to the sport because it is a great and exciting sport that I think they would enjoy.
BSO: Lastly, in sports like Hockey, Golf and auto racing where there aren’t a lot of minorities, sometimes you have to deal with things the other drivers don’t have to, how do you deal with that?
DWJ: I have heard racial slurs and some things from fans that I wish I didn’t, but it doesn’t bother me. It motivates me, because you can’t see anything about a winner and that is what I intend to do, be competitive and win races.