Bubba Wallace Experiences Nitro Tears and Wins Toyota 4 Wide
Toyota Racing sponsored a crossover event on Thursday that combined two NASCAR Cup drivers with a pair of NHRA drivers to compete in a heads-up drag race at zMax Dragway in conjunction with NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide Nationals outside Charlotte, NC. Kalitta Motorsports’ DHL Toyota Top Fuel pro Shawn Langdon and DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car champion J.R. Todd joined Bubba Wallace, driver of #23XI DoorDash Toyota Camry, and Daniel Hemric driver of #18 Poppy Bank Toyota Supra for a four-wide race in stock production Toyota Supras. Following an action-packed day of NHRA Drag Racing behind the scenes, the foursome competed in a winner take all 4-wide event with Bubba Wallace claiming the win.
With teams preparing for the 11th annual NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Kalitta Motorsports introduced the NASCAR drivers to the power output of an 11,000 horsepower race car sitting in the pits. Hemric got a quick lesson on how to warm up Langdon’s DHL Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster and Wallace crawled in the seat of J.R. Todd’s Toyota Camry Funny Car. With NASCAR on FOX and NHRA on FOX on hand, production crews were stagging film clips for Wallace’s upcoming series on Netflix. After Bubba got a feel for the raw power generated by Todd’s DHL Funny Car, his eyes began to fill with “Nitro Tears” affording the popular NASCAR star with a true baptism to the sport.
After Hemric and Wallace got real world experience during an NHRA engine warmup behind the wheel of a Nitro Top Fuel dragster and a Nitro Funny Car respectively, Toyota provided Shawn Langston and J.R. Todd with a unique driving opportunity in the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) racing simulators complete with advice from the NASCAR stars. Before the foursome took to the track for side-by-side action in production Supras, Langston and Todd demonstrated the roar of their 11,000 horsepower powerplants with burnouts while the NASCAR drivers stood between the starting trees.
Last year after three years behind the wheel of the 43 car, Bubba Wallace announced he would be leaving Richard Petty Motorsports at season’s end. In turn, six-time NBA champion and longtime racing fan Michael Jordan announced that he and Denny Hamlin were purchasing a NASCAR ownership charter for 2021. In turn, Bubba Wallace was named as the driver of the 23XI Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Camping World Cup Series. Wallace finished runner-up to William Byron for Sunoco Rookie of the Year in 2018, a rookie season where Wallace placed second in the Daytona 500 and posted two other top 10 finishes.
Wallace started in NASCAR as a development driver where he drove a Toyota part-time for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and full-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series. As the only full-time African American driver to compete in all three national series (Cup, Xfinity, and Truck), Wallace was also the only African American driver to win more than once in any of NASCAR’s upper-level professional divisions. In 2017, Wallace was hired by Pixar as the voice of next-gen stock car driver Bubba Wheelhouse in the movie Cars 3. Self-proclaimed to be one of the most frustrated amateurs on tour, Wallace won the Golf Guys Tour event founded by 23XI co-owner Denny Hamlin at River Run Country Club in NC.
Photo courtesy of Walter G. Arce Grindstone Media Group