BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Two nights ahead of the Yellawood 500 at Talladega, last year’s winner Bubba Wallace is helping NASCAR draw in a new audience for this weekend’s race and beyond.
NASCAR and Wallace hosted Bubba’s Block Party at Railroad Park Friday, looking to target a new audience by drawing in more fans for Sunday’s race.
“This is a first, first time I’ve heard about him,” Reginald Smith said.
Smith and his family heard about the event on social media posted by some of their favorite vendors who said they would be in attendance. The Smiths wanted to make sure they could help support them.
“I’m not a NASCAR watcher, but having an African American in NASCAR that stood out to me,” Brittney Smith said.
Brittney said exposure for their children to someone who looks like them is important.
“I think it’s really important for little girls and little boys to see folks that look like themselves and I think Bubba’s a really good example of that, and bringing more attention to racing is not something I would be interested in, but he’s making it cool so I like it,” Brittney said.
That’s why Wallace helped to host the event.
“Our sport has had so many labels part of it that I want to change the perception of it,” Wallace said. Just because there’s one or two black drivers in the sport doesn’t mean we can’t have more fans there and to have them enjoy their time and cheer on their favorite drivers. It doesn’t even have to be me, that’s a bummer that it’s not, but that’s part of it.”
Wallace is supporting minority-owned businesses and giving fans a chance to test his craft in a driving simulation.
“There’s not too many NASCAR drivers who does these types of events on this scale,” attendee Jonathan Judge said. “The way he does it here at Railroad Park in the heart of Birmingham, I think he’s doing a great job of giving back to the community.”
He’s also providing an opportunity for fans to see themselves represented in vendors and music while adding a charm of culture.
“It’s an opportunity for us to invite a different crowd frankly out to the races at Talladega this weekend and to show representation in this great city of Birmingham,” NASCAR Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion said. “It’s really important that folks see themselves represented. We’re very excited about the success that Bubba has had and the stance that he’s taken on some important topics.”
This is Wallace’s second block party ever but he’s planning on having more in 2023. The first one was earlier this year in Richmond, Va.