NASCAR: Bubba Wallace talks exciting partnership, BBQ initiative

Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Bubba Wallace spoke with us about his partnership with Kingsford and an exciting initiative called Preserve the Pit that they are running as the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season gets underway.

Bubba Wallace has been a sponsorship magnet in the NASCAR Cup Series over the last year or so, and that has played a role in him landing with 23XI Racing, the brand new team started by NBA legend Michael Jordan and fellow Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin.

23XI Racing will have a full-fledged technical alliance with the four-car Toyota powerhouse of Joe Gibbs Racing, the team for which Hamlin competes. Wallace is set to pilot the #23 Toyota this year after spending the last three seasons behind the wheel of the #43 Chevrolet for Richard Petty Motorsports.

Ahead of his debut with the new team, the 27-year-old Mobile, Alabama native spoke to Beyond the Flag about Kingsford, one of the many new partners he added last season, and a special initiative that they are running as the 2021 season gets underway.

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“Kingsford came on, it’s crazy it’s already been a year — really getting close to that, working together,” Wallace said. “We’ve had a lot of fun. When I do have time, I’m obviously on the grill, so it’s nice to have a good partner there to go hand in hand with, with Kingsford.

“As we all know, for certain holidays or special occasions, barbecuing is really the name of the game, getting everybody around, having a nice meal. They’ve been in the game for over 100 years, really trying to preserve that barbecue culture, and getting everybody around, and especially the history of the Black barbecue in America — trying to push its future along and prolong that to make it enjoyable for everybody.

“They’re doing a lot of good things. Instead of just — when you think of Kingsford, you just kind of charcoal or whatever — but it’s so much more than that. I can say the same: when you think of me, you think of race car driver. But we all have layers, and we’re all trying to do some really good stuff in our community. So it’s nice being, like I said earlier, paired up with Kingsford to help out from all different platforms.”

Wallace went on to discuss their new Preserve the Pit initiative.

The Preserve the Pit initiative aims to shine a light on the people and stories that have made barbecue what it is today, while also supporting barbecue entrepreneurs through an immersive fellowship that gives a group of aspiring barbecue professionals an exclusive opportunity for immersive training as well as a one-on-one mentorship with dedicated industry leaders throughout the year.

“It’s actually a really cool concept, getting to know more about it,” he said. “It’s shining light on people and the stories that have made barbecue what it is today. Also supporting the barbecue entrepreneurs throughout an immersive fellowship is pretty dang cool.

“I’m just like wanting to get better at barbecuing; just throwing something on the grill and, ‘Hey this is it!’ — it’s just like, no, actually taking time and understanding how to do it, what to do, what not to do, is really cool. So having that mentorship is really special with some key people that are in the barbecue industry, teaching you and helping you grow on the grill and just life in general. So that’s pretty sweet.”

Anybody interested in applying to become a fellow can visit and apply by Monday, March 1, 2021.

The inaugural class of fellows is slated to be announced in April and will be selected based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to each individual’s connection to barbecue, their contributions to the legacy of the Black barbecue community and their commitments to fueling the future of barbecue.

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Bubba Wallace is set to compete for 23XI Racing for the first time next Sunday, February 14 in the 63rd annual Daytona 500, which is set to be broadcast live on Fox from Daytona International Speedway beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.