Wallace's Historic Win Helpful For NASCAR, But It Won't Change The Fanbase Overnight
Darrell Wallace Jr. became the first African-American to win a national NASCAR race in 50 years last Saturday with his victory at the Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 in Martinsville, but it is "still going to take more years for NASCAR to develop a sorely needed, significant African-American following," according to ESPN's Ed Hinton. Wallace has the "best wishes of NASCAR's traditional audience as he moves up, but attracting new audiences will have to come at the top level." The significance of Wallace's win is "more as a building block than a splash a nation will notice." ESPN's Marty Smith said Wallace's win is "a huge story," but to Wallace "it was a race win." Smith said, "The cultural impact was foreign to him. He never even considered it. We all did and in my opinion the true, broad-scope cultural impact will come if he wins a Sprint Cup race." ESPN The Magazine's Ryan McGee said the "immediate impact" of Wallace's victory is "almost relief" for NASCAR. He said of NASCAR trumpeting Wallace's win, "You have to be careful because you're also kind of shining a spotlight on the fact that this hasn't happened for 50 years." McGee: "I look forward to the day when this isn't a story" ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 11/1). In Charlotte, Jim Utter writes Wallace was "obviously ecstatic after the victory," but he "seemed at times overwhelmed with the significance attached to his win." Wallace on Thursday said, "I just went out there and won the race. Then the remarks and stories and everything starts flowing in after about the history and the records set and [NASCAR's first African-American driver] Wendell Scott and all of it came in rushing after." He added, "This is one of many, I hope, and hopefully we can get something settled for next year and just keep trying to fight for Victory Lane" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/1).