Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. – the first full-time African-American driver in NASCAR’s elite series since 1971 – is changing the face of NASCAR.

Wallace’s success this season also is on the minds of students at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), which is the only historically Black college and university (HBCU) to offer a bachelor’s degree in motorsports management.

“With Bubba here now, it’s like, ‘Wow, we have someone that looks like us out there competing at a highly competitive level,’ ” says Walter Thomas III, a junior motorsports management student from Indianapolis. “Even though NASCAR has always been looked at as a predominantly white sport, you can look around at any of the races and see African-Americans at the track. For me personally, I feel this will help me in the pursuit of one day racing in the NASCAR Cup Series.”

Christopher Gilbert, a junior motorsports management student from Harvey, Louisiana, says it’s exciting to see a driver who looks like him.

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Originally published September 5, 2018.