Everything aligned perfectly for Bubba Wallace to be able to make a statement with the paint scheme on his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet during Wednesday night's NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.
Wallace, a 26-year-old who is the only black driver in NASCAR's three top series, has been a leader for the sport amid global protests of racial injustice after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others at the hands of police. He wore a "Black Lives Matter" T-shirt during pre-race ceremonies last week at Atlanta and a day later called upon NASCAR to ban all Confederate flags from race tracks. His next action is scheduled for Wednesday night, and it will come from his car.
Richard Petty Motorsports on Tuesday unveiled a new blackout paint scheme for Wednesday night's race that prominently features the Black Lives Matter hashtag among other symbolic logos. It just so happened that RPM had not yet sold a primary sponsor for the No. 43 car at Martinsville, so the paint scheme had been TBD.
Wednesday night's NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. ET on FS1, but the forecast for the area called for scattered thunderstorms and the possibility of rain.
RPM has not said what it would do with the Black Lives Matter car should the Martinsville race get postponed or even canceled. The next race on the schedule, Sunday's event at Homestead-Miami Speedway, will run on an intermediate track and will require a different car than the short-track special the team has at Martinsville. If Wednesday night's race gets postponed, it will either run June 17 or will be turned into a doubleheader at Homestead.
Let's hope NASCAR can get the race in Wednesday night so we all can see this beauty of a paint scheme in action.
Bubba Wallace's Black Lives Matter car
Below are some images of the paint scheme that will be featured on Wallace's No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro for Wednesday night's Martinsville race.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 10, 2020
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) June 9, 2020
The image on the car's hood of black and white hands grasping each other was illustrated by a Richard Petty Motorsports designer. The words compassion, love and understanding are featured below that logo as well as above the read bumper.
The peace symbols on the rear quarterpanels, located below the Black Lives Matter hashtags and featuring hands of all colors, were actually Petty's idea. The seven-time Cup Series champion's cars in the 1960s and 1970s often featured peace signs in the interior.
Why Bubba Wallace has a BLM paint scheme for Martinsville race
Technically, the paint scheme for Wallace's car at Martinsville was not changed because it was never set in the first place. In a video RPM tweeted Tuesday, Wallace explained the Martinsville race was open in the sense that the team had not yet sold a primary sponsor for the car.
"It was actually on Blackout Tuesday, which was a special day and a big day for our country," Wallace said of the day the decision to create a blackout car was made. Blackout Tuesday (June 2) was organized in the music industry as collective action to protest racism and police brutality. Many who participated simply posted all-black images to their social media accounts.
Wallace continued: "It sparked an idea of, 'Why not run a blackout car?' I was like, 'Absolutely, that would be incredible.' Our team brought that idea to me, and I jumped all over it.
"We had further conversations of, 'Why not make a statement behind it and run a foundation or a charity that is helping push the narrative and initiative of what's going on in the world today — racial inequality. Let's find somebody that aligns with that. Why not dive straight into the root and putting Black Lives Matter on the car?'"
— Richard Petty Motorsports (@RPMotorsports) June 9, 2020
What is Black Lives Matter?
Black Lives Matter, founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of the man who killed Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., is an organization with a mission "to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes."
The words "black lives matter" are meant to draw attention to the historic degradation of black people in the United States and have become a rallying cry beyond the organization itself — hence the hashtag.
"It's not that we're saying no other lives matter," Wallace explained in RPM's Twitter video. "We're trying to say that black lives matter, too. If we put t-o-o on the end, I think a lot more people would understand it. We want to be treated equally and not judged off our skin color."
— Black Lives Matter (@Blklivesmatter) May 29, 2020
Per the organization's website, Black Lives Matter "affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. Our network centers those who have been marginalized within Black liberation movements.
"We are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise. We affirm our humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression. The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation."