Prior to Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, NASCAR drivers stood by their stock cars for the national anthem and invocation. Bubba Wallace joined his fellow drivers, wearing a shirt in honor of George Floyd. The shirt read, "I Can't Breathe. Black Lives Matter."
The camera put this shirt on full display during the pre-race ceremonies. He paired the shirt with an American flag face mask. Wallace is the only African American driver in NASCAR's Cup Series and has been speaking out about systemic racism since Floyd's murder in Minneapolis. He reacted to the news by saying that "s—'s getting old." He also spoke with Dale Earnhardt Jr. about experiencing racism in his own life.
"Another reason why I'm a fan of Bubba Wallace. Black Lives Matter shirt and American flag mask. Those two things can definitely go together. #NASCAR #BLM #America," one NASCAR fan commented on social media after seeing the pre-race ceremonies. Several others agreed and felt that Wallace made the right decision by wearing the shirt at the track.
In addition to the shirt, NASCAR also paid tribute to Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. The drivers came to a complete halt at the end of the pace laps and held a moment of silence for victims of police brutality and systemic racism. NASCAR President Steve Phelps spoke to his drivers, the viewers, and the pit crews and proclaimed that the sport and the country both need to do better in the wake of Floyd's death.
Systemic racism has been the primary topic of conversation since Floyd's murder, and Wallace addressed this during his discussion with Earnhardt. He explained that police officers had killed his cousin years prior when he was reaching for a phone. Wallace also talked about getting pulled over by police and facing questions about whether or not he could "afford" his car.
Wallace still faces discrimination due to being a black man, but he is working with his fellow drivers and NASCAR officials to push for change. They said in a video Sunday that it's time to slow down and reflect on the recent events. Wallace and his fellow drivers believe that there is still considerable work to do in the nation, but they are dedicated to listening with empathy in order to advocate for change in their communities and homes.