What Bubba Wallace wants Chicago to learn about NASCAR during the 2024 NASCAR Chicago Street Race

Bubba Wallace knows NASCAR isn't a sport Chicago thinks of regularly.

In a town with five teams in the four biggest sports – MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL – there's plenty Chicago can learn about racing, cars and drivers.

There was plenty Wallace could teach at Bubba's Block Party on Friday at Douglass Park.

"That's what it's all about," Wallace said. "They always ask, how can we do better and it's tapping into the markets that we're not into."

Wallace talked about the avenues that NASCAR provides.

The 30-year-old driver spent time Friday meeting with younger fans and more potential fans in a city that has plenty of untapped potential for him as a driver, but also for the rest of the sport.

That's why Wallace wants Chicago to learn about what exactly goes into the races he stars in.

"The drivers are made to look like superheroes every Sunday," Wallace said. "But, you got to look at how we get to the track and how our cars are able to perform."

Wallace specifically mentioned the public relations, front office and mechanic staffs that help cars race and races occur. He said these aspects of NASCAR are the underappreciated parts of the sport.

He pointed to these specific avenues, especially the media parts of NASCAR which is a different landscape than the sport had 10 years ago. 

There are also the mechanical parts of NASCAR which make sure cars can run safely and properly, arguably the most important part of the sport from a behind-the-scenes aspect.

Wallace wants fans and NASCAR hopefuls to know that all of these parts of the sport exist.

"Maybe driving isn't for you," Wallace said, "but this is how you can be part of your sport as well."

Wallace also wants to build the fanbase for NASCAR in Chicago, which includes a different demographic of fans because NASCAR needs them.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the average viewership for live NASCAR Cup races across different TV networks fell from 3.2 million viewers in 2018 to about 2.9 million last year.

Wallace wants new fans, especially younger fans and fans of different demographics and races, to know that he wants them to watch the races and feel at home while taking in the experience.

"I don't know if that's the same feeling that fans of different backgrounds when they step into the stands. "I feel responsibility, for me, to make them feel more welcome, more comfortable."

Racing in Chicago means a little more for Wallace, but not because there's a statue of his racing team's ownership on Madison Street. Wallace's team, 23XI Racing, is owned by Bulls legend Michael Jordan.

It means a little more to him because there are plenty of opportunities to build a following in one of the biggest cities in the world.

"It was also fun to come over to the city, and just be a tourist, be a fan," Wallace said. "It's a good venue to be in."


NASCAR star Bubba Wallace meets with young Chicago fans ahead of race

The stars and the cars came together for the NASCAR Road Rally at McDonald’s in Bronzeville. Fans got to meet Bubba Wallace Jr., and enjoy festivities leading up to the weekend races.