Juicy Wallace Wrecks NASCAR | The American Spectator

Juicy Wallace Wrecks NASCAR
Scott McKay
by
Bubba Wallace, photoshopped by Scott McKay

I’ll be honest and say that I only very peripherally follow NASCAR, the stock car racing league which up until very recently was seen as, arguably, the most conservative-friendly sports organization of anything on offer to the American public.

But while I couldn’t offer you a detailed account of the racing circuit’s standings or give you a projection of the finish based on any particular intelligence, it was fairly obvious based on recent headlines that the sport, based as it is in a rural, if not Southern, traditional value set, was becoming unmoored from its roots and suffering accordingly.

Wallace was rewarded for playing the victim. Before he knew what had happened, his car was being pushed into pole position at Talladega and he was suddenly the most famous driver in the world. 

NASCAR comes from a quintessentially American, and delightfully Jacksonian American, tradition; the cars, which ultimately made their way onto the first stock-car racing tracks had been customized, if not actually built, for a specific purpose — namely, to outrun the law enforcement vehicles that routinely chased bootleggers up and down the hollers of Appalachia during Prohibition. NASCAR comes from a decidedly blue-collar, hillbilly tradition, which other American sports leagues don’t claim. There were no Ivy League colleges specializing in racing cars up and down the highways of the East Coast to mirror the creation of  football, basketball, and baseball; this sport was built on an American ideal that holds that what the hifalutin’ New York set has to say about a certain something matters not a bit unless it’s to set the standard for disagreement, and standing up to The Man is to be held as a show of common-man virtue.

Confederate flags at NASCAR events are, or have usually been, de rigeur. That some degree of racism fell along with that was not the point; it was that the NASCAR demographic was perhaps the most pro-America of all sports leagues, and also perhaps the most pro-law enforcement, it was also the most fervently invested in the old-fashioned American ideals — individualistic, self-reliant, courageous, masculine, and an interesting mix of traditionalist and iconoclastic.

But of late, NASCAR has embraced the almighty corporate dollar, and what a commitment to Mammon in modern American life seems to mean is a willingness to embrace whatever corporate values the hifalutin’ New York set wishes to impose.

So the Confederate flag had to go.

And when the circuit’s only black driver, Bubba Wallace, decided to embrace the Black Lives Matter movement, NASCAR was set very much free from the demographic that built it into a powerhouse in the sports and entertainment world.

Wallace, until a few weeks ago, had a reputation as a good guy and an up-and-comer on the race circuit worth rooting for, though not a particular superstar to be found in the winner’s circle. He was a once-in-a-while top 10 finisher, but in general not one of the top dozen, or even top 20, drivers on the circuit. But Wallace was with a prestigious team, that of famous driver Richard Petty, and he was driving the prestigious No. 43 car.

Then, after the COVID-19 panic brought actual racing to a halt this spring, things started to come apart for Wallace. In April, there was a virtual eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race simulated at the track at Bristol in which Wallace participated but did poorly; he had a virtual accident on the virtual track in the 11th lap and quit the race. When he did, team sponsor Blue-Emu dumped him. The company’s executive vice president Ben Blessing said that Wallace’s outburst would have been unacceptable during a physical race. Per Blessing, Wallace’s outburst was not the act of a NASCAR driver, but of “someone like my 13-year-old son who broke his controller playing some game where he builds houses.”

For that to happen over a simulated electronic race, essentially a high-tech video game, was either a dramatic overreaction or a reflection of a lot more happening under the surface than the public was privy to.

Events that followed only made things worse. Wallace, sans a sponsor, went back to for-real racing at Martinsville on June 10 with his car painted in a “Black Lives Matter” scheme, which caused a few murmurs but no protests. He finished 11th. Four days later at Homestead he finished 13th.

Then came Talladega.

For the last four years, if not going back further, all of the garage bays at the race track at Talladega have roll-down doors controlled by a thin rope whose bottom handle is formed by a loop knot allowing for easy handling.

If you’re a moron, or if you are sensitive to imaginary racial slights in the way that an ideologically indoctrinated Starbucks barista might be, you might possibly see one of those pull-ropes tied in a loop knot and conclude it looks like a hangman’s noose. And if it looks like a hangman’s noose and there are black people within earshot of the knot’s presence you might, in your fevered snowflake mind, conclude racism is afoot.

So when the pull-rope in Wallace’s garage bay was tied in the same loop knot as every other garage bay at Talladega, as it had been for at least four years, someone on Wallace’s team, clearly hyped up into the stratosphere by our current idiotic and emotionalist Black Lives Matter moment, ran to NASCAR’s headquarters with a strong conclusion that a noose had been fashioned in a racist attempt to intimidate Wallace.

Upon the allegation, the entire circuit fell all over itself to show sympathy to its only black driver. So much so that the other crews pushed Wallace’s car into the pole position for the start of the Talladega 500.

Wallace finished 14th.

But he finished first in the amount of attention he received as a result of the incident, and Wallace spared himself no effort in milking the noose fiasco for all that it was worth.

He said that “Today’s despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism.… Nothing is more important and we will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate.”

Wallace went further.

“As my mother told me today, ‘They are just trying to scare you,’ ” he wrote on Twitter. “This will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down. I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in.”

Wallace also decried the “simple-minded” people who doubted that what he and his allies were calling a lynchman’s noose was more than just a pull-rope.

And NASCAR said, “We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act. We have launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport.”

It was obvious almost immediately that there was no hangman’s noose in Wallace’s garage. It’s impossible to get into a NASCAR garage bay unless you’re supposed to be there, and nobody who’s supposed to be there has time to fashion lynching nooses for Bubba Wallace in order to intimidate him into finishing 14th, instead of 11th or 13th as he had finished in the prior two circuit races.

He simply isn’t that important, and he certainly isn’t the Jackie Robinson of stock car racing. Wendell Scott was that pioneer way back in 1971.

But the noose was enough of a scandal that the FBI sent no less than 15 federal agents — while cities across America were burning with riots and historical landmarks were being toppled by street criminals and communist revolutionaries — to investigate what turned out to be a harmless pull-rope.

And came back with a very terse statement that no federal hate crime had been committed against Bubba Wallace.

It should be understood that Wallace never actually said he saw the noose on the pull-rope, or at least he never said it until after the FBI blew up the “racist hate crime narrative” that roiled NASCAR for 72 hours. Wallace went on a morning talk show Wednesday and claimed “it was a straight-up noose,” a regrettable statement that earned him guffaws from put-upon race fans and others sick and tired of the never-ending media outrages of late. What the public should have received was an apology, but that isn’t what came.

Nevertheless, by Wednesday afternoon, it was clear a publicist, PR consultant, or someone on Wallace’s team had done some coaching, and a new statement issued forth.

“It’s been an emotional few days,” he tweeted. “First off, I want to say how relieved I am that the investigation revealed that this wasn’t what we feared it was. I want to thank my team, NASCAR and the FBI for acting swiftly and treating this as a real threat,” Wallace wrote. “I think we’ll gladly take a little embarrassment over what the alternatives could have been. Make no mistake, though some will try, this should not detract from the show of unity we had on Monday, and the progress we’ve made as a sport to be a more welcoming environment for all.”

Yeah, OK.

It’s probably fair to say Wallace has been overwhelmed by the events of the last two months, and it’s also fair to say he might deserve a lot more slack than the media, which has chewed him up and spat him out in search of a new divisive, disastrous scandal to earn ratings and clicks. Wallace didn’t originally see the noose, and he was told by NASCAR’s woke management, who has completely sold out to both corporate media and the increasingly woke sponsors, that a dastardly racist hate crime had been perpetrated on him; it would have taken a feat of exceptional perception and cognitive independence for him to say, “Wait a minute; before I go along with this idea that I’m the victim of a hate crime let’s see some actual evidence to that effect.”

Nobody is trained to do that anymore.

Wallace was rewarded for playing the victim. Before he knew what had happened, his car was being pushed into pole position at Talladega and he was suddenly the most famous driver in the world.

Race card driver, that is.

It would have taken a lot to pull back from that. But in such an idiotic time as this, to be truly exceptional and worthy of fame is to rise above the stupidity. Which Wallace did not do.

After the Jussie Smollett disaster last year, the great comedian Dave Chappelle offered one of the greatest bits of social commentary of recent years in lampooning Smollett as the “famous French actor Juicy Smollier” in a routine most of the culturally literate in America can recite nearly by heart. The “Juicy” meme has since come to be known to signify the perpetration of a racial hoax, or a hoax otherwise related to imaginary bigotry and hate.

Which, deservedly or not, has now descended on Bubba Wallace, who at present is the “juiciest” man in professional sports. He’s forever going to be known as the promoter of a destructive and divisive racial hoax, regardless of what success he might have in future NASCAR races — assuming he even gets the chance, because Wallace could well be too hot for the Petty racing team to handle now.

It isn’t even out of the realm of possibility that NASCAR itself is in jeopardy. Given the demographic described above, this is not a product that can play too heavily in the “Black Lives Matter” sandbox, particularly when offering fraudulent episodes of racist hate crimes to the public. The viewers will simply tune it out. NASCAR isn’t like the NFL, in which a large portion of the fan base is willing to go along with kneeling for the national anthem and another portion will rationalize such behavior by shrugging its shoulders and noting the majority of the players are black. In NASCAR almost all the drivers are white, and a substantial number come from blue-collar and rural backgrounds where Black Lives Matter is considered foreign and sinister (not that you have to be blue-collar or rural to see the movement that way) — and the fan base mirrors that demographic. And nobody in the stands at a NASCAR event is very interested in apologizing for their “white privilege” — to scold them with such verbiage is to invite ridicule, if not a more old-fashioned retaliation.

Selling a Jussie Smollett melodrama to such people is similar to selling the destruction of a statue to Washington or Jefferson. You’re a lot more likely to get a brickbat in response than a bouquet.

And Bubba Wallace is simply far too Juicy for consumption. A bigger disaster than this week’s fiasco literally could not have hit NASCAR, or been handled worse.

Don’t be surprised if a new stock car league doesn’t arise as a result.

Scott McKay
Scott McKay
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Scott McKay is publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics. He’s also a novelist — check out his first book “Animus: A Tale of Ardenia,” available in Kindle and paperback.
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