Opinion: Wallace’s detractors proof that NASCAR “fandom” can still be pretty toxic

Come to think of it, that’s not much of an opinion, it’s a fact. Some of you reading this are proof that social media really isn’t for everyone. I know I should delete my Facebook. It doesn’t really do me any good except for pictures of my kids and talking to old college buddies. But every time I see a NASCAR social media post I can pretty much be assured that someone is going to be quick to let the world know that “Bubba Wallace is a disgrace to NASCAR” and “LOL Bubba Smollett” and “Bubba Wallace is ruining NASCAR.”

To those who continually spout that nonsense, delete that. Then delete your Facebook. Or Twitter. Or Instagram if you’ve figured out how to work the camera on your phone for more than selfies to fit your Facebook profile picture banner.

It’s one thing to not like a driver. Back in the day I was a die-hard Dale Earnhardt Sr./Jr. fan and detested that No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon. I would have given anything to see Gordon wad up that Hendrick Chevy in person, right? That comes with the territory of fandom. You love your team and loathe their rivals with a passion; I can tell you right now as an Oklahoma Sooners fan I take every opportunity I can to deface Texas Longhorns memorabilia.

There’s that, then there are the social media cries for Wallace to be fired, or hanged, or harmed. There’s calls comparing him to Jussie Smollett, the actor who faked an attack on his person. There are claims that his activism and push for inclusion in the sport is ruining the sport. There are claims that because he’s black that he’s automatically a thug. That’s not a matter of fandom – that’s a matter of ignorance. If that’s you, then there’s no place for you in today’s NASCAR. The sanctioning body is making that clear.

I engaged one of the ranks on a NASCAR social media page. In retrospect, that was a bad idea, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I was feeling a bit rambunctious, and I made the claim that “with all the Bubba hate, you might as well just come right out and say that you hate black people in NASCAR.” I don’t really know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t surprised when the first response I got was “hell yeah I do, don’t you?”

Really? This isn’t okay. Nothing about that is helping bring any fans or money to the sport. We should be celebrating that for the first time since the hazy days of Brian France the sport is actually reaching the demographic it’s wanted for some time and is actually growing in the manner it’s been aspiring to for awhile. We should celebrate that just as we should celebrate our differences. It shouldn’t be hard, right?

For some, it’s rocket science. The same morons who no doubt grudgingly wear their face mask in public underneath their noses are the same folks stuck in Talladega a month ago, looking for any reason they can to discredit Wallace. “LOL Bubba Smollett!” Actually, Wallace didn’t find the noose, his crew did. “It was fake!” Actually, the noose was there awhile – talk about poor coincidence. “NASCAR is pandering to Wallace!” Well Karen, if you weren’t boasting about wanting to drag Wallace around pit road with your truck’s bumper then maybe his crew and the NASCAR officials wouldn’t feel like they need to be on their guard. They acted accordingly because your dumb ass made a scene because your beloved Confederate flag got taken away.

Wallace’s stance and activism is bringing high-profile eyes to the sport. This is a good thing. Repeat, this is a good thing. You might not agree with it – okay. One of the great things about being an American is the right to have a different opinion. However, just because you have a different opinion doesn’t mean it matters, just like your Facebook status about how much you hate Wallace. You can cry “Free Speech” all you want, but every right you have has a consequence attached to it.

That being said, if you’re one of those who thinks it’s their standing in life, their “right,” their raison d’être, to be as hateful as possible regarding Wallace and what he’s doing to and for the sport, you might have a bit of the ol’ racism bone in you. At the very least you’re suffering from an unconscious bias. Whatever it is, it’s something that requires some introspection and reflection – you’re the problem. Not Wallace, not NASCAR, not Richard Petty – you.

You can hide behind your whataboutisms, your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram memes, your white privilege, whatever. But in the end, you’re getting left behind by the sport. NASCAR has done a great job in looking back at the less-than-savory aspects of it’s past and doing what they can to rectify the situation. Not only do we, the fans who truly care and want to see the sport grow and be appreciated by everyone (not just white Southerners), appreciate that, the world appreciates that. You’re more than welcome to join as long as you’re not a jerk, but something tells me that’s more than what your wounded pride can bear.

So for that, go ahead and hide behind your facades and excuses. Continue making racist cracks and hating a driver because he’s a human too. Continue telling everyone on every NASCAR fan group that you don’t watch NASCAR anymore – nobody cares. You’re as relevant as the hipster in the coffee shop with his laptop open because he wants the world to know he’s writing the next great American novel. Meanwhile, you’re a part of the toxic problem that plagues an otherwise decent fandom. This may be a source of pride for you, but in all actuality, you should probably get some help for that.

Until then, wear your mask in public, at least. Make sure it covers your nose too.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

Joseph Shelton
Joseph Shelton
Husband to Stacie and Daddy to Dexter, Aeris, Meredith, and furbabies Lola,Tiny, Lucy, Genesis, Lily, Tommy The Cat, and Ace. Ardent race fan and serious Braves baseball lover.


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