Bubba Wallace realizes how much his profile has grown since he started speaking out against racial injustice.
Wallace announced a sponsorship and personal services deal with clothing brand Columbia on Wednesday. The deal is Wallace’s second significant sponsorship deal of the summer involving a company that didn’t have any previous NASCAR involvement. Wallace and his Richard Petty Motorsports team previously signed the Cash App as a multi-race sponsor.
That interest in sponsorship has come after Wallace spoke in favor of NASCAR banning the Confederate flag. Those comments on CNN thrust Wallace into the national spotlight as NASCAR banned the flag two days after he went public with his desires.
“I was always told win, and they’ll come,” Wallace said of NASCAR sponsors. “And we won a couple, we won a few in the Truck Series and still fighting sponsorship issues. I haven’t won much since then. But we’ve been doing things. We’ve been winning off the race track. I think that’s helped being much bigger than an athlete, standing up for human beings. It’s something that we often don’t get to do just because we’re put on a pedestal. With the spotlight that I put myself into, being vocal about what’s going on the world, has created opportunities for new partners. Look at Columbia here. A brand new partner, a part of the sport, a part of RPM, a part of the Bubba Wallace brand. We’re doing good things off the race track that helps our on-track performance. So, we will just continue those ways.”
Like many drivers, finding sponsorship hasn’t been easy for Wallace. His Xfinity Series ride with Roush Fenway Racing was shuttered because a lack of sponsorship and Richard Petty Motorsports has pieced together sponsorship ever since he was hired to drive for the team full-time in 2018. A sponsorship investment from World Wide Technology founder David Steward has helped RPM out significantly since the spring of 2019, but the team has still been looking for more and more sponsors.
And with sponsorship money comes speed. Theoretically, anyway. The teams with the most financial resources are usually the fastest in NASCAR.
“This doesn’t even compare to how the little bit of sponsor momentum we’ve had in years past,” Wallace said. He’s currently 20th in the standings with four top-10 finishes. “This is an incredible opportunity for me; one the best years in my racing career from that standpoint. We’re building up on a great future here, getting these partnerships and deals in place; to set the team, the partner, and myself up for great success and we’ll continue to do that.”
Wallace is also set to be a free agent at the end of the season. RPM wants him back in the No. 43 car in 2021 and he’s said publicly that he has an offer in hand from Chip Ganassi Racing. It is looking for a driver after Kyle Larson was fired for saying a racial slur in April.
“It’s good to be having these conversations and all options that are on the table, again, we’re still in the heart of it and in the thick of it,” Wallace said of contract talks. “But, we’re working out everything as we go.”
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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