June 11, 2020 / 2:36 AM / 25 days ago

Wallace to use #BlackLivesMatter livery in NASCAR race

(Reuters) - Bubba Wallace, the only African-American driving in the NASCAR Cup Series, will use a #BlackLivesMatter livery on his Richard Petty Motorsport Chevrolet for a race at Martinsville Speedway on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Jun 10, 2020; Martinsville, VA, USA; NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace wears a Black Lives Matter shirt as he prepares for the NASCAR Cup Series at Martinsville at Martinsville Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Steve Helber/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Network/File photo

Following protests over the killing of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, NASCAR has promised to do more to address racial injustice.

“I’m excited for this opportunity to run #BlackLivesMatter on the car for Martinsville,” Wallace said in a video posted on Richard Petty Motorsports’ Twitter account. “This statement that we have right here. Running this race car. Being on live television.

“I think it’s going to speak volumes for what I stand for, but also what the initiative that NASCAR, the whole sport, is trying to push.”

During last Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway Wallace wore a black T-shirt with the words “I Can’t Breathe”, which were Floyd’s last to officers restraining him.

The paint scheme used on Wallace’s car on Sunday is striking with two fists, one black and the other white locked together on the hood.

Underneath the graphic are the words “Compassion, Love, Understanding”.

“I think the two fists — the black fist and the white fist — going hand in hand speaks volumes, says a lot. Has a lot of power behind it,” Wallace said.

The Martinsville track in Virginia is significant for Wallace. It is where he came up through NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program and won his first race in a national truck series in 2013.

NASCAR president Steve Phelps said on Sunday the sport would do more to address racial injustice and is coming under increasing pressure to ban the Confederate flag, widely viewed as a symbol of slavery, which still flies prominently at many races and remains popular among the sport’s strongly southern, white and conservative fan base.

NASCAR first asked fans in 2015 to not bring Confederate flags to race but this has been largely ignored.

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond

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