theGrio’s 100: Darrell Wallace, Jr., pro driver makes NASCAR history

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Who is Darrell Wallace, Jr.?

Darrell Wallace, Jr. competes in the Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He signed with Joe Gibbs racing as a development driver when he was 16.  

Wallace, 20, is a product of NASCAR’s ‘Drive for Diversity’ initiative, which targets minorities for different opportunities in the sport, according to Orlando Sentinel’s George Diaz. 

The Mobile, Alabama native first became interested in racing at the age of nine.

Why is he on theGrio’s 100?

In October, Wallace became the first African-American driver to win a national NASCAR series event since Wendell Scott’s victory back in 1963.

His historic victory catapulted Wallace to front pages everywhere. The first-place finish at Martinsville Speedway was seen as a victory for NASCAR as well, a sport struggling to “reflect society,” as USA TODAY Sport’s Jeff Gluck put it.

Wallace said his victory was emotionally overwhelming, but an important moment for kids to look up to:

“There’s no one that minorities can look up to in [NASCAR],” Wallace said. “Like football, basketball has the Kobe Bryants, LeBron James. It’s just hard to look up to somebody for the young kid [hard to say] ‘I want to be like him’ when there’s no one that looks like him in the sport.”

What’s next for Wallace?

Many in the racing world are wondering if Wallace’s win at Martinsville will propel him to higher heights. To make that transition, Wallace will need financial backing and sponsorship.

He also has to prove himself a consistent racer and winner. As ESPN’s  Brant James notes, Wallace “contested just four Nationwide races – all in 2012.”

Coming off the heels of Martinsville, however, it’s clear Wallace has an extraordinary opportunity to take off in NASCAR.

Follow Darrell Wallace Jr. on Twitter @BubbaWallace