Sporting history was made two weeks ago.
On October 26th, Darrell Wallace, Jr. became just the second African American driver to win a NASCAR national series. (The first was Wendell Scott, who won in 1963).
It was a great moment for the sport and for Wallace himself, who at the age of 20 is still just a rookie. Following the historic win, major media outlets like CNN, ESPN, BET and, oh yeah, GlobalGrind, got the inside scoop.
We caught up with Darrell to talk about his big win, his sponsors, his come up and if he considers himself an athlete.
Peep the interview below.
GlobalGrind: We heard it’s been a pretty good couple of weeks for you?
Darrell Wallace, Jr.: Yeah, it’s been pretty hectic, for sure. But for the good.
Is it the greatest moment of your life?
Yeah, I’d say so, winning my first big Nascar race; it’s been fun.
How’d you celebrate?
I haven’t really had time to celebrate. We had to get up the next morning and go back to the track and do some media stuff.
So you didn’t go out?
Nah, I’m only 20, I can’t do much celebrating.
Did you feel confident that you were going to win?
Going into the weekend, I thought we had a really good shot to win. I told a lot of people that we would. And we definitely exceeded that, so that’s always good. It was a long time coming, we’ve been working all season to get ourselves a win and it finally paid off.
You got any interesting phone calls?
No, no, it’s kinda been the same. Getting phone calls from sponsors and team owners is huge. We still got three races to go, so we’re already thinking about the next race on the schedule.
How are you before a race?
Before a race I’m kinda in a zone, just really keeping quiet and getting ready to attack. It’s a fun couple of days leading up to the race and of course, when it’s time everyone gets serious.
Do you have any rituals?
No, I don’t. It’s kinda funny, after you win you try to think about everything you’ve done the night before or leading up to that moment. But I can never seem to remember the one thing before that, besides winning the race.
What’s your biggest sponsor?
Toyota. I’ve been with the Toyota family going on for five years now, and it’s been great.
Growing up, you were the only one of your kind, right?
For sure. I’m bi-racial, so it wasn’t easy to make it through the ranks. I was too young to understand the stuff being thrown out there. And I kinda just used that as fuel, and I still use it as fuel to motivate me and try to win even more.
Is there a situation in particular you can talk about where you felt slighted because of your skin color?
Ahh, no, I can’t think of one. It has just been small silly stuff, getting the finger from this one guy. That’s actually one I remember. And I pulled up right in front of him while I was doing my burnout. Did a burnout in front of him, and gave him the thumbs up. And did a burnout again while I was leaving.
You might become the face of trying to make this sport more diverse: are you comfortable in that position?
Yeah, for sure. Hopefully this win has helped get my name out there and it will have younger people get involved; if I can do it, they can do it. I have no problem carrying that role.
What do you say to people who say: “being a Nascar driver isn’t being an athlete?”
That they’re wrong, and that there’s a lot more to it then sitting down, turning left and going in circles. There’s a lot of work going into being able to win and when you do win, you actually did something. You actually beat the best out of the best, and it’s a lot of fun.
I heard it’s really hot in there?
Yes, and that’s another thing: the saying you can’t take the heat stay of the kitchen, that also implies to a racecar. It gets over 200 degrees in there. You lose in average about five pounds a race.