Seeing the success of Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. has prompted NASCAR fans to have flashbacks of legendary racer Rusty Wallace. Though the two share the same last name, there is no relation between the new No. 43 driver and the former NASCAR driver. As The Undefeated describes, Wallace Jr. is having fun with the confusion, even making t-shirts that read: “Darrell not Waltrip, Wallace not Rusty, Junior not Earnhardt.”
Wallace Jr. is making history as the first African-American to have a full-time NASCAR gig since 1971, and the driver handpicked by Richard Petty to drive the iconic 43 car. Wallace Jr. has embraced being a driver who aims to create a path towards more diversity in racing.
“I’m the only one that’s here,” Wallace Jr. told The Undefeated. “NASCAR is, I wouldn’t say desperate, but they’re looking for a new face,” Wallace says. “They’re getting a new face behind the wheel, but it’s the same face in the stands. We have a great fan base, and they want to continue to grow that. They’re not trying to change that fan base. They want to just bring a bigger impact to the outsiders that are looking in. Because it is a fun sport.”
As for Rusty Wallace, he is staying busy, and is still involved in racing in a few ways. According to NBC Sports, he juggles his time from managing seven car dealerships, running the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience and even raced in the Ferrari Finali Mondiali.
I still feel like I can get in a car and run and give good feedback and be competitive at the age of 61,” Wallace told NBC Sports in a recent interview. “One of the most fun things I did was last year when I was asked to compete in the Ferrari Finali Mondiali, which is the big Ferrari race, for the first time at Daytona International Speedway.
There were 123 cars show up and I finished 10th. I was pretty proud of that. The other fun thing I did was driving for Robby Gordon in the X Games. I literally got my ass kicked and had it handed to me. I ended up flipping the truck in the race, but I had so much damn fun that it was unreal. But I really learned to respect guys like Ken Block, Robby Gordon, some of those big names.
Rusty Wallace had been part of ESPN’s NASCAR team before the television company lost its broadcasting rights to NBC, but now he calls races on the radio for MRN.
“It’s one of my favorite things right now, I love doing that,” Rusty Wallace told NBC Sports. “I had the opportunity to go to work for MRN and that kept my name in the sport and kept me involved in the sport and it’s been fantastic. They treat me like a million bucks and we get along fantastically. I do almost all the ISC Cup races. You won’t hear me on a Truck race or an Xfinity race, but you’ll hear me on all ISC Cup races. There’s three or four I may not do, but I’ll be doing about 21 races for MRN.”
While the elder Wallace enjoys retirement, Wallace Jr. is looking to make his own name for himself on the same tracks Rusty had so much success on.