Bubba Wallace and Richard Petty are two of the most recognizable names in NASCAR history. But are they related by blood or by racing? The answer is not as simple as it may seem.
Who is Bubba Wallace?
Bubba Wallace is a 29-year-old professional stock car racing driver who competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the No. 23 Toyota Camry for 23XI Racing, a team co-owned by NBA legend Michael Jordan and fellow driver Denny Hamlin. He also drives part-time in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, driving the No. 1 Toyota Tundra for Tricon Garage.
Wallace is the only full-time African American driver in NASCAR’s three national series (Cup, Xfinity, and Truck) and has been a vocal advocate for racial justice and diversity in the sport. He was instrumental in NASCAR’s decision to ban the Confederate flag from its events and properties in 2020, and he also drove a car with a Black Lives Matter paint scheme at Martinsville Speedway that year.
Wallace has two career wins in the Cup Series, both at Talladega Superspeedway, in 2021 and 2022. He also has six wins in the Truck Series and was the first African American to win in that series in 2014. He has yet to win in the Xfinity Series, but he has 36 top-ten finishes and two poles.
Who is Richard Petty?
Richard Petty is a 84-year-old retired stock car racing driver who is widely regarded as one of the greatest drivers of all time. He is nicknamed “The King” for his record of 200 wins in the NASCAR Cup Series, the most of any driver in history. He also holds the records for most championships (seven), most Daytona 500 wins (seven), most poles (123), and most consecutive wins (10).
Petty drove for his own team, Petty Enterprises, for most of his career, driving the iconic No. 43 car with a blue and red paint scheme. He retired from driving in 1992, but remained involved in the sport as a team owner, broadcaster, and ambassador. He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010.
Petty is also known for his philanthropy and his signature cowboy hat and sunglasses. He is the father of former driver Kyle Petty and the grandfather of former driver Adam Petty, who died in a crash during practice in 2000.
Bubba Wallace and Richard Petty are not related by blood, but they do have a strong connection through racing. Wallace drove for Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM), the team co-owned by Petty, from 2017 to 2020. He was hired as a replacement for Aric Almirola, who left the team after suffering an injury.
Wallace became the first full-time African American driver in the Cup Series since Wendell Scott in 1971, driving the No. 43 car that Petty made famous. He earned his first top-five finish at the Daytona 500 in 2018, finishing second behind Austin Dillon. He also finished third at the Brickyard 400 in 2019.
Wallace received support from Petty during his tenure at RPM, especially when he faced backlash for his stance on social issues. Petty stood by Wallace’s side when a noose was found in his garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway in June 2020, which later turned out to be a misunderstanding. Petty also offered Wallace a part ownership stake of RPM to re-sign with the team after his contract expired at the end of 2020.
However, Wallace decided to leave RPM and join 23XI Racing, a new team formed by Jordan and Hamlin. He said it was not an easy decision, but he felt it was time for someone else to take over the reins of the No. 43 car.
Bubba Wallace and Richard Petty are not related by blood, but they have a mutual respect and admiration for each other as NASCAR drivers and leaders. They share a history of driving the No. 43 car for RPM, but they have also gone their separate ways to pursue new opportunities. They remain friends and competitors on and off the track.