Bubba Wallace talks ‘sticky situation’ of wearing BLM shirt at NASCAR race

The upcoming Netflix series "Race: Bubba Wallace" is set to follow the Black NASCAR driver's career and efforts "to advocate for inclusion and equality in racing and beyond."

NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace is opening up about his experience wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt at a race in 2020 shortly after the death of George Floyd.

Wallace, the only Black driver in NASCAR’s top series and just the fourth in its near-75-year history, is days away from the release of “Race: Bubba Wallace,” a Netflix docuseries based on his 2021 season.

The driver of mixed Black and Caucasian descent has been vocal in the past about experiencing racial harassment while competing in a sport known for historically lacking diversity. In a clip from the new series exclusively shared with PEOPLE, Wallace is shown discussing how he anticipated the statement would impact his career.

Wallace’s fiancee, Amanda Carter, opens the clip with a confessional in which she describes having talks with the driver ahead of his June 2020 race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, as the nation saw a wave of protests in response to Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police.

“It was a few days before the race at Atlanta and we had talked about him doing something and he talked about wanting to wear a Black Lives Matter shirt,” Carter said.

“I’m like … it’s a sticky situation,” Wallace said. “But you know what? This is what needs to happen.”

“He was so dead set on making a statement,” Carter says before Wallace continues, “I was just going to show up with that shirt on. I thought I was going to lose my ride, to be honest with you. So be it.”

Later that June, Wallace successfully called upon NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag from its races and properties, saying the symbol had “no place” in the sport. 

Just weeks later, a noose was found in Wallace’s garage stall, prompting an investigation by the FBI. Although the bureau concluded that the incident was not an intentional act of racism, Wallace emphasized to PEOPLE that he would “just keep fighting the good fight for me and continue to stand up for what I believe in.” 

As Wallace faced an onslaught of criticism for voicing his beliefs, his mother, Desiree, said it was nothing new — she shared that other drivers within NASCAR have not only mistreated Wallace, but also have called him the N-word and told him he “don’t belong here.” 

In an interview with Joe Madison, host of The Black Eagle podcast on Sirius XM radio, Desiree said that she told her son, “You don’t throw back out on them … you just get in that race car and win. That’s the way you fight back.”

Wallace, who formerly drove a No. 43 car for Richard Petty Motorsports is now driving the No. 23 car in Michael Jordan‘s 23XI Racing team. 

At the time of the announcement, Jordan released a statement saying, “Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity, and there have been few Black owners. The timing seemed perfect, as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more.” 

Bubba Wallace, driver of the #23 McDonald’s Toyota, waits on pit lane during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Per Deadline, the upcoming Netflix series will explore that newly formed team and the current season. Deadline revealed the series will follow “Wallace, Jordan and Hamlin’s newly-formed 23XI Racing squad, and NASCAR’s efforts to advocate for inclusion and equality in racing and beyond.”

According to PEOPLE, the show will be executive produced and directed by Erik Parker, who co-directed the 2017 documentary “L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later.”

Netflix’s “Race: Bubba Wallace” will release on the streaming platform Tuesday, Feb. 22.

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