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Bubba Wallace Throws Block Party ahead of NASCAR’s Chicago Street Race
Bubba Wallace organized the event as way to generate more interest in the sport.
With the countdown to NASCAR’s inaugural street race in Chicago nearly up, final event preparations are busily being executed and put into place all around the city. From road closures to food stations, to concert stages and everything in between, the Windy City is rolling out the red carpet for NASCAR, taking every possible measure to ensure the success of the much-anticipated event, and one of the league’s brightest stars is doing what he can to return the favor.
Just days before he hops into his No. 23 Toyota Camry to represent Michael Jordan’s 23XI Racing team during the Grant Park 220, two-time Cup Series race winner Bubba Wallace threw a one-of-a-kind block party in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood in effort to broaden the appeal of the sport. As the only Black wheelman in the Cup Series, Wallace joined forces with the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center to host the party in the neighborhood that, historically speaking, has been an epicenter for minorities and a predominantly Black neighborhood since 1930, according to the Chicago History Museum.
Partnering with NASCAR to produce the epic shindig, Wallace’s Windy City block party stems from the league’s initiative to attract new fans from diverse communities such as Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood, reports NBC 5 Chicago.
A statement behind the league’s philosophy reads, “NASCAR Diversity and Inclusion strives to create an inclusive environment in all facets of the NASCAR industry recognizing the value of diversity, which allows us to go faster and farther in our workplaces, at the race track and in the stands.”
While taking photos with Wallace and of his Next-Gen car, party goers who attended the free festivities held on the lawn of DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center were treated to a behind-the-scenes experience in the fast lane. The immersive experience put party patrons behind the wheel and included a first-hand look at what pit crews do during a NASCAR Cup Series race.
President and CEO of the museum Perri Irmer conveyed his support for NASCAR and Wallace putting on the event.
“I think it’s all about exposure,” Irmer expressed. “It’s about having folks understand that this is accessible as a sport and accessible as a field of study, as a training and as a career path.”
Wallace spoke with NewsNation about the importance not only of the event in Washington Park, but NASCAR’s broader effort to diversify its fanbase.
“I think this is an incredible demographic to be a part of and to tap into,” Wallace stated. “We [NASCAR] want to change for the better and allow for all ages and races and disabilities and whatnot to be a part of our sport with no boundaries.”
As the only Black driver in NASCAR’s elite Cup Series, the symbolic importance of him cruising into the Windy City for NASCAR’s first-ever street race with none other than the most famous Chicago legend – six-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan – is not lost on Wallace.
“To be here in Chicago, where I know the 23 has massive significance, it’s just cool to be carrying the number and the colors and everything else about it,” revealed Wallace. “For us, the 23 team in particular, it’s a very hyped-up event. The biggest hyped-up event in a really long time. So, for us to just go out and perform and put on a good show I think does well for NASCAR, does well for the team, does well for the fans.”
Currently residing in 15th place in the Cup Series standings, thanks to five top-10 finishes, Wallace is fighting to remain inside the cut of the 16-driver playoff which begins September 3 with the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. Saying a win of NASCAR’s first-ever street race would be “massive,” Wallace, who just made his 200th career start during the Ally 400 in Nashville, could effectively etch his name into the NASCAR history books while also punching his ticket into the 2023 Cup Series postseason – a feat that, despite his skill behind the wheel, he’s yet to accomplish in his Cup Series career.
Be sure to tune into NASCAR's Chicago Street Race, Sunday, July 2 at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBC as well as Peacock.