Ryan Blaney talks his friend Bubba Wallace and encourages others to visit peaceful protests
Last week was a week of action and major change in the world of NASCAR. A multitude of events led up to and sparked the change in direction.
Bubba Wallace, the only African-American NASCAR driver has been vocal on social issues in America. He also encouraged NASCAR to take the next steps and gave them the next step, banning the Confederate flag.
Ahead of Atlanta Motor Speedway, Ryan Blaney visited Bubba Wallace’s house with mutual friend Dillon Smith.
Ryan Blaney on Bubba Wallace
“We talked about some stuff. It was great for me to see how they feel in certain situations. I’ve never been in their shoes. I’m not an African-American male and can’t relate to that. The best I can do is just learn about it,” Ryan Blaney stated.
“He did great, I think he was on CNN. He’s on his way man. I’ve known him for a long time, he’s just ‘Bubba’ to me. I think of him as a brother. He’s not getting sleep because he’s so busy.
Wallace did many interviews and had the weight of the movement on his shoulders in the NASCAR world. That, a lack of sleep, a hot day in Atlanta and a long race led to Wallace passing out on national television, twice.
Bubba Wallace the activist
“I’m really proud of what he’s doing,” Ryan Blaney said of his buddy Bubba Wallace. “The effort he’s putting in to kind of lead the charge.”
“I came behind him and a lot of drivers. Not only the drivers, but a lot of teams as well.”
Three days later, NASCAR was back at it in Martinsville. The Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 showed up with a Black Lives Matter paint scheme due to a lack of sponsorship for the race. (According to the team, the sponsorship phone is now ringing off the hook.)
“The [Black Lives Matter] car they ran, was great. I love that they came up with that idea.”
“We’ve been best friends for a long time. The way he and I have always thought growing up, everyone’s equal. We always treat everyone equal no matter where you come from or what color you are.”
“He’s just encouraging the cause right now. I feel like he always has been an activist, a little bit. In these times, I think it’s great that he’s embracing it and leading the charge.”
Since Bubba Wallace spoke up, NASCAR has taken a big step. Following Wallace’s recommendation, they’ve banned the Confederate flag from all events and tracks. That flag was commonly seen at any race prior.
Related: Confederate flag banned by NASCAR
Ryan Blaney was in a Charlotte area protest
There’s been protests across the country. Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina included, which saw multiple days of protests with thousands in the streets.
On most days, they were peaceful. There was a handful of nights where windows were smashed (including on my own Uptown apartment building), tear gas was used and hundreds of police circled the streets. But, for the most part, people just marched with a unified mission.
“I went to one [protest] last week [before Martinsville]. I was out in Charlotte and one was happening, I kinda joined in.”
“You can’t really tell who anyone is, they got masks on. I’m not a person where if I go to a peaceful protest, I’m not gonna post it that I’m there. You’re there to learn and you’re there to understand and talk to people. I wanted to go, learn and support them as well.”
Blaney added, “I think it’s great. I think a lot of people should check out the peaceful protests. You can learn a lot from people. Just talking and hearing their stories.”