The 12 Questions series of interviews continues with Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., who is in his rookie season driving for Richard Petty Motorsports in the Cup Series. This interview was recorded as a podcast, but is also available in transcript form.
1. How often do you have dreams about racing?
Once every blue moon. I don’t dream about it every night before I go to bed.
Do you have nightmares about crashing or some crazy thing?
No. I had a dream two or three weeks ago that I was finally racing again. So it was like, “Yeah, that’s cool.”
2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?
Yeah, it does. For example, I reached out to (Denny) Hamlin to say, “We’re all good?” He’s not good. But I did my part, so it’s like, “OK, I’ve got nothing to worry about.” (Note: The drivers apparently spoke a few hours after this interview was recorded.)
It could have festered if you didn’t.
I look at the (Matt) Kenseth and (Joey) Logano deal (from Martinsville). You really take notes from that. But you’re gonna be racing these guys every week, hopefully for the next 10, 15 years.
3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?
“You’re a role model,” or “You’re very inspiring.” A kid came up to me at Daytona and was like, “I’m gonna be the next you.” It was like, “Holy cow, that was cool.” Through all the emotions I was going through right then, I’m like, man, no time for that. “Nice to meet you.” Carry on. (Laughs)
4. NASCAR comes to you and says, “Hey, we are bringing a celebrity to the race and we’re wondering if you have time to say hi.” Who is a celebrity you’d be really excited to host?
I’ve been thinking about when we go to Fontana, like we get Kevin Hart out. That would be awesome.
I’m bummed I didn’t meet Charlize Theron though (when she was honorary starter at Daytona).
You never met her?
No. I’m a brunette guy, obviously Amanda (Carter, his girlfriend) is a brunette. But (Theron) has always been my top blonde. Ever. Like ever since I was like 10.
And she’s there at Daytona…
She’s there, and yeah…no. Peyton Manning was there though, so (Tennessee) Vol For Life.
I told Amanda that Charlize was there and she was like, “Cool.” She didn’t like it. (Laughs)
5. In an effort to show they are health-conscious, NASCAR offers the No. 1 pit stall selection for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for a month. Would you do it?
(Laughs) No. Absolutely not. No.
6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I have picked a random race from your career.
What is this shit that you have? (Laughs)
I looked on Racing Reference, picked a random race and you have to tell me where you finished. This is the 2015 Texas spring race for the Xfinity Series.
(Makes random thinking noises.)
Are you good at remembering races?
I remember that one. It wasn’t a good finish. Or was it? I don’t know exactly where I finished because if it’s not top 10, then it’s just like, “Eh, top 15.” I think I was 20th or something. I think I blew a tire. I think that race rained out and we ran the next day. No? (Note: He was thinking of the Texas fall race that year.)
This is a top-10 finish, I’ll give you a hint.
Oh wait, that must have been the fall race. I’m sorry. I finished seventh?
Sixth. Oh, go figure.
I picked a sixth because of all your sixths last year. You started eighth. You led three laps and Erik Jones won. And I swear on my life this is completely random, but after I already picked this race, I realized Austin Dillon finished in front of you and Denny Hamlin finished right behind you.
(Laughs) That’s pretty funny.
7. Who is the best rapper alive?
I have to go Lil Weezy (Lil Wayne).
8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?
I’ve seen this question, and…who has the most punchable face? This is funny. I couldn’t think of one right when I’d seen it. That’s tough. I don’t know.
Some people just have annoying faces, it doesn’t necessarily mean…
Yeah, I’m just trying to think. Who has that one face? I’ve seen people that have that face, but nobody in the garage.
9. NASCAR enlists three famous Americans to be involved with your team for one race as part of a publicity push: Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Tom Hanks. Choose one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter and one to be your motorhome driver.
It’s a toss-up between Tom Hanks as being the crew chief or the motorhome driver, because Tom Hanks is just awesome. He’s like that older guy that you’d want driving your bus, who’d just take care of everything. But then he’s so knowledgable and I feel like he has so much strategy to be the crew chief.
But I’ll put him as motorhome driver, have LeBron be the crew chief. Shit, that leaves T-Swift up to being the spotter. Ah man, that’s a tough one.
The thing about T-Swift is that she might get over-excited.
I know. My spotter Freddie (Kraft), he’s from New York, and our first race together, he was super excited, yelling, and I was like, “Dude you have to chill out because we’re gonna wreck.” Because I got excited. So I think I went through that emotion, and now I’m OK.
So if she got excited, I would be like, “Alright, cool, just try to calm down please.”
10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?
So I’ve never been able to take a poop in any public place.
Not a port-a-potty or anything?
Oh hell no. Absolutely not.
Is it because of the comfort of your own toilet or the cleanliness of your own toilet?
Both. I have maybe gone once or twice when I was little and I can’t remember. But I never did in middle school, never did in high school and I’ve never done it at a racetrack. Ever. Unless I have a motorhome. Motorhome, it’s all mine.
Can I tell you something? In about 10 years you won’t be able to hold it as well.
No, I will hold it.
11. NASCAR misses the highlight reel value brought by Carl Edwards’ backflips and decides a replacement is needed. How much money would they have to pay you to backflip off your car after your next win?
We were just talking about this at dinner last night. I have always been scared to do a backflip — rightfully so, because I could manage to land on my neck and die. We went on a cruise, and we were in the water launching people off our shoulders, and I just freaked out and flailed my arms in mid-air. I just couldn’t do it.
So then a month ago, we went to a trampoline place in Charlotte and in the foam pit, I did it. I’m like, “OK, I know what to do, your legs is all the momentum that you need.” So I kicked really hard and I actually perfectly landed on my feet for a backflip. I’m like, “Hell yeah!” I’m not ready to do it on hard surfaces, though. It’d have to be lots of money.
12. Each week, I ask a question given to me from the last interview. Last week, I interviewed Corey LaJoie. Apparently he used to give you a ride to school for two and a half years, and he claims it cost him an extra 20 minutes off his day, every day — and you only gave him $20 total for all the chauffeuring that he did. So I think he wanted to say, what was up with that?
So it wasn’t 20 minutes. He and I lived the same distance on opposite ends of school. I was a mile and a half on one side, he was a mile and a half on the other. So he’d drive three miles to my house, and a mile and a half back to school. So four and a half miles, which is not 20 minutes. And traffic wasn’t bad at all.
Twenty bucks is a little shy. But hell, I’m running Late Models at that point, I’m not making anything. It’s just a funny story because everything that we do for each other, it’s like, “Hey man, remember I gave you $20? We’re good.” And we die laughing over that.
But there were some moments where I’m sitting at the house and school started at like 7:15 — and it’s 7, 7:05, 7:10…
“Hey, where you at?”
“Oh, I’m not coming today.”
It’s like, “Damn!” He did do that a couple of times. He’s like, “Oh yeah, I’m racing somewhere today.” No notice. So luckily I made it on time, but yeah, there were a couple of instances like that. So what he would have earned, he lost because of those moves.
He got docked.
Yes, sometimes I had to do detention for him.
There’s fines involved.
So the next interview I’m doing is with Alex Bowman. Do you have a question for him?
Alex Bowman…that’s a tough one. I don’t really know Alex that well, but I do because we’ve raced together since K&N days a little bit. Just ask him how long it took to get over me wrecking him at Homestead of 2016.
Coming to the line, I had the run on Aric Almirola and Bowman happened to get a run on me, so it was like an accordion effect. I went to dive under just to try and get the spot on Almirola, and Bowman was under me. So it looked like Blake Koch and me at Phoenix, and I just felt so bad because my spotter was probably saying, “Inside, inside,” and I turned hard left and destroyed his car.
I didn’t have Bowman’s number or anything, and I felt like crap all the way up to Dale Jr.’s wedding, which was a month and a half later. And I saw the crew chief (Dave Elenz) at the wedding and I was like, “Look, man, I totally apologize, I didn’t mean to do that, I know I ruined y’all’s day.” He was like, “Yeah, we were all pretty pissed at you for a little bit.”So yeah, just see how long it took for him to get over it. Because last time I met him it was like, “Hey man, what’s up?” I’m like, “Ah it’s good, thanks.”
Previous 12 Questions interviews with Bubba Wallace: