By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
You can bet every driver racing this weekend at the Chicago Street Circuit can use some positive energy.
For Bubba Wallace, the weekend kicked off with just that, following a sweet encounter Saturday morning with a young girl and her family in the city of Chicago.
“This morning, we went to Wildberry Cafe and I got recognized,” Wallace said. “I kind of noticed… you’re always aware, right? The family kept looking over their shoulder, two little kids and the mom and dad. The little girl was probably five, she walks up, ‘Hey! Are you Bubba Wallace?’ And I gave her a high five, ‘Yeah that’s me!’. She said, ‘Good luck!’ and I was like, ‘Thanks!’.
“We sit there and ready to leave and they ended up buying our meal. And I thought that was nice, I went over and shook their hand and they told me good luck in the race. Definitely a lot of positive energy coming our way.”
The kind moment came two days after another moment he shared with thousands of present and future race fans. The 23XI Racing driver hosted his latest Bubba’s Block Party event. The pre-weekend engagement event focusing on exposing minorities to NASCAR and Wallace, the only African-American driver in the Cup Series.
With more than 7,000 people registering for the event, Wallace had countless moments with the people in attendance to get their first looks at NASCAR from Washington Park in Chicago.
Bubba’s Block Party Chicago was a huge success! Big thanks to Lupe Fiasco, all the partners, and @NASCAR for getting this done. This is just one of the ways we’re working to bring new faces to this sport🤘🏾 pic.twitter.com/wTHVoywuqF
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) June 29, 2023
“I’ve met a lot of really cool people,” he said. “I met Grace and Dean, a go kart racer who races all over the country. I talked to him and his pops Wednesday at the Block Party, that was cool.
“It’s cool to see that many people show up and show out. They had a great time, it was just fun to be there. They’re really proud of the direction we’re taking as a sport. To be one of the leaders in that is pretty cool.”
Wallace enters Sunday’s Chicago Street Race 15th in points and 30 points above the cutline with nine races until the playoffs. Rolling off 14th, Wallace hopes to transfer the happy start to the weekend into a happy finish. More than anything, Wallace doesn’t want to change his process.
“When you start changing up your process, that’s when things don’t go very well,” he said. “These last few races haven’t gone very well and it wasn’t because we were looking at points, we just haven’t executed.
“We know the situation we’re in, we know we’re right here on the cusp of our first win of the season.”