Race: Bubba Wallace Review 2022 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew
Bubba Wallace was well aware that he was the only Black driver in NASCAR’s top series. There have only been four in the race car series’ nearly 75 years. And he felt the best way to go about things was just to keep his head down and drive.
“I never watched the news,” he says in the new Netflix docuseries “Race: Bubba Wallace,” which premieres Tuesday, Feb. 22. “I didn’t speak out. I don’t want to pay attention, because I need to focus on racing. For the longest time that was true. I was selfish.”
But then the death of George Floyd, as it did for so many of us, changed his thinking. He felt he couldn’t stay silent any longer.
Shortly after Floyd was suffocated to death by Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020, Wallace appeared at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia sporting a black T-shirt that read, “I Can’t Breathe. Black Lives Matter.” Just like that, Wallace became one of the most divisive figures in NASCAR — and one of its most booed drivers.
“Race: Bubba Wallace” looks back on the events of 2020 and follows the driver through his 2021 season and a changing NASCAR landscape — a change he is helping to create.
Wallace drove the rest of the 2020 season with a “Black Lives Matter”-themed car and suggested that NASCAR ban the Confederate flag at its events. For some fans of the sport, which has Southern white roots, that was akin to blasphemy.
Incredibly, NASCAR decision makers agreed. They moved quickly to ban the flag, sparking a short-lived boycott from the sport’s “traditional fans.” A short time later, what appeared to be a noose was found in Wallace’s garage. NASCAR drivers rallied around Wallace in support. The FBI later concluded that the noose was actually a pull-down rope tied in a hangman’s knot, not a hate crime.
Director Erik Parker (“L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later,” “Hip Hop: The Songs That Shook America”) followed Wallace throughout the 2021 season, when the driver was in his first year with owner Michael Jordan’s 23XI Racing, a team that is pushing NASCAR to further diversify.
Fellow NASCAR drivers such as Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin sit down for Parker’s camera, as well as Black cultural figures such as Oakland comedian and filmmaker W. Kamau Bell, Jemele Hill, and Michael Strahan. We get to know Wallace’s family, including his fiancee and his mother and sister.
But most moving is the personal time spent with Wallace himself. He opens up about the pressure to win as NASCAR’s only Black driver, and the stress and newfound fame he feels from being a part of racing’s social justice movement. He admits at one point that he has sought out professional help for his mental health.
“Race: Bubba Wallace” is premiering two days after the running of the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s traditional season opener. Who knows what 2022 will bring for Wallace, but 2021 finished on a high note: In October, he won a 500-mile race at Talladega, Ala., his first win in NASCAR’s Cup series, and was the first Black driver to win a race in the sport’s top series since 1963.