Recommended: RACE: Bubba Wallace on Netflix
What's RACE: Bubba Wallace About?
The 2021 season of Darrell Wallace Jr., aka Bubba, is chronicled through multiple lenses, including his personal life, competitive challenges role and budding activism as NASCAR’s only Black driver.
Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?
Race isn’t just an engrossing and surprisingly suspenseful docuseries about an elite athlete trying to get to the top tier of his sport. It’s also a great intro to racing and NASCAR, including a clear-eyed look at its rebel-flag-waving past. The sport has seen better days, with declines in TV ratings and attendance, and has made a lot of changes in recent years. But is a woke Black driver the kind of change NASCAR wants?
Told in the classic Netflix docuseries style — get ready for that back-and-forth timeline graphic! — details about Wallace’s biography and the sport of racing are revealed as the 2021 season progresses. Tension comes from problems both on and off the track. And then there’s that whole drop-the-mic moment, when the 23 car of Wallace shows up in Martinsville, Va., wrapped in black and sporting a huge Black Lives Matter logo. As W. Kamau Bell notes, “Now you’re defined by that stand, and you better be good.”
Like a Heisman-winning quarterback thrown into the NFL pressure cooker, Wallace expects to win. And when he doesn’t, and he’s out front with his race views, “it’s a totally different level of pressure,” as his mom astutely points out.
We won’t spoil the ending for those who don’t keep up on NASCAR, except to say Bubba does win a race. Wallace’s hypercompetitiveness and tough-guy attitude are accented on one side by Hamlin — who defines what it takes to win in NASCAR — and softened by his mother and friends.
Pairs well with