AP Interview: NASCAR'S Bubba Wallace finds voice

Full Screen
1 / 7

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

FILE - In this June 10, 2020, file photo, driver Bubba Wallace waits for the start of a NASCAR Cup Series auto race in Martinsville, Va. Bubba Wallace now counts Spike Lee and Demi Lovato his admitted celebrity crush as those loudly in his corner since hes become the leader of NASCARs push for change. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Bubba Wallace can count Spike Lee and Demi Lovato in his corner since he became the leader of NASCAR’s push for change.

Where he has failed to find support is from corporate America.

Wallace is the only black full-time driver at NASCAR's top level and has had to scrap for sponsorship money his entire career. Since he has taken a prominent role as an activist — successfully calling on NASCAR to ban Confederate flags at its events and leading the conversation among his peers about racial equality — the only new friends Wallace has are celebrities and fans.

Richard Petty Motorsports has not heard from a single potential sponsor looking to back Wallace on the track.

“Nope. Nothing,” Wallace said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press. "There's a lot going on and part of me thinks, ‘Hell, they always told me winning would make the sponsors come,’ and we won a couple times and the sponsors never came.

“I'm not doing this for sponsorship," he added. "I am doing this because it's what I believe in. If sponsors do come through, then they are showing support and they believe in the message and they line up with the same core values that I have. That's important.”

The 26-year-old Wallace was widely praised at Wednesday night's race for running a Black Lives Matter paint scheme on the iconic No. 43 made famous by Hall of Famer Richard Petty, his boss. The opportunity for RPM to support Wallace with the paint scheme was possible only because no other corporation had bought the hood space to advertise.

RPM has sponsors including the Air Force, Coca-Cola and McDonald's for 16 races this year. It has space avaialble for 20 more.