Darrell Wallace Jr

50 Most Marketable 2018 - Darrell Wallace Jr

American, 24, Motorsport

Nascar driver flying the flag for African Americans

Representatives: Fuel Sports Management Group

Key partners: Cobra Electronics, Maui Jim, World Wide Technology

Nascar’s slide has been well documented in recent years, but in amongst the wreckage is a new jewel driving fresh interest in the sport. A rookie product of the US stock car racing organisation’s Drive for Diversity programme, Darrell ‘Bubba’ Wallace Jr announced himself to the Nascar world when he secured second place in this year’s Daytona 500, the highest ever finish for an African-American driver at the series’ flagship event.

Now also the first African-American since 1971 to compete full-time in Nascar’s top-tier series, Wallace Jr’s career has come a long way from participating on a race-by-race basis, when sponsors were hesitant to support a black driver competing in a realm orchestrated by white males. Blessed with good looks and a Southern charm, the 24-year-old’s new-found fame has already made him the subject of an eight-part Facebook Watch series chronicling his build-up to the Daytona 500, while he also voiced the character of Bubba Wheelhouse in the 2017 Pixar movie Cars 3.    

For a sport that has struggled to attract new audiences, a lifeline comes in the form of an unlikely source. It wasn’t long ago that Wallace Jr needed Nascar to survive - now those roles appear very much reversed. SC

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