There are few NASCAR racers as promising as Bubba Wallace. He’s also unique in that he’s the only full-time black athlete competing in the Cup Series.
‘Race: Bubba Wallace,’ a Netflix documentary, examines Bubba’s background and how his parents, Desiree and Darrell Sr., shaped him into the man he is today.
So, if you’re interested in learning more about them, here’s what we know so far!
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Bubba was born in October 1993 to Desiree, a black woman, and Darrell Sr., a white man. Brittany Gillispie, his older half-sister, gave him the nickname.
“He was always one of those kids who was trying to find out how things worked,” Desiree recalled of Bubba as a kid. He possessed one of such mind[s].
He was able to put things together at a young age.” While Bubba dabbled in a variety of activities as a kid, he got hooked on racing after being exposed to it by one of his father’s friends.
Darrell Sr. saw Bubba’s promise and invested as much money as he could into his son’s racing. At the time, Darrell Sr. managed an industrial cleaning company.
Desiree, a former track athlete, accompanied Brittany to her basketball games while he took Bubba around other race tracks. Back then, the family didn’t talk much about race, and Bubba grew up in a rather racially-neutral environment.
However, a few situations in which individuals called Bubba a racist slur caused them to have a discussion.
“Those are ignorant people,” Desiree informed her son. When they say that to you, you don’t use violence, and you don’t fight back.
By winning, you reclaim them. By winning, you earn their respect.” However, Desiree and Darnell Sr. had a tumultuous separation in 2016, which ended in divorce.
Bubba, who had a tight relationship with his father, battled with the changes that had an impact on their relationship.
Because he competed in a sport with a primarily white fan base, Bubba always preferred to focus on his racing over making political statements.
With the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd in 2020, that changed. Bubba soon spoke out against racial discrimination and demanded that Confederate flags be banned from NASCAR premises.
While Darrell Sr. thought the increased attention was beneficial, he was concerned for Bubba. “You need to be aware of your surroundings,” he advised his son. Know where you are, who you are with, and who is in your immediate vicinity. Because there are a lot of weird people, and this has enraged and angered a lot of people.”
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Bubba’s choice to speak up astonished even Desiree. “I was thinking, ‘My son?'” she explained. ‘Are we discussing the same, Bubba?’
He didn’t have an opinion one way or the other, but as far as I knew, he didn’t care because all he wanted to do was eat, sleep, drink, and race. That is all there is to it. He only does that.”
Desiree is still a huge part of Bubba’s life today, and Darrell Sr. is still working on his relationship with his son.
Desiree Lawrence is married to George Lawrence and resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. Darrell Sr. is married to Julie Wallace and resides in Concord, North Carolina.