Darrell ‘Bubba’ Wallace Jr, an American racing driver known for his success in America’s hugely popular NASCAR, has bizarrely lost a sponsor after rage quitting a virtual race on April 5.
As a result of the ongoing global health crisis, NASCAR events are struggling to go ahead as planned. Subsequently NASCAR, as part of a wider theme across the world of sport, have turned to video games as a temporary solution.
This saw a host of the sport’s most successful stars descend upon the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway. The race was ultimately won by William Byron, who led for 114 of the 150 total laps. However, the iRacing event also made headlines for a completely separate, and bizarre, reason.
During the race, Darrell ‘Bubba’ Wallace Jr crashed into the car being driven by fellow professional Clint Bowyer. This led to Bowyer proclaiming that he had been “Bubba’d” on the live FOX Sports broadcast.
Wallace Jr did not take this comment lightly, however. In a now-deleted tweet, the 26-year-old stated: “That’s why I don’t take this s*** serious. Bye bye. Peace out!” He quickly quit the race and his stream went offline.
This move angered sponsors Blue-Emu, a pain-relief brand that had agreed to sponsor Wallace for the virtual race. The company’s executive vice-president, Ben Blessing, confirmed to The Action Network that the company had rescinded their sponsorship of Bubba.
“We aren’t sponsoring Bubba anymore,” Blessing told the sports gambling and business website. “Can you imagine if he did that in real life on a track?” Bubba is known for a fiery competitive spirit in real-world NASCAR, and it seems he took the passion into virtual racing too.
“We thought this was a blessing in disguise for us,” Blessing continued. “But then you find out that you aren’t sponsoring a NASCAR driver, you are sponsoring someone like my 13-year-old son who broke his controller playing some game where he builds houses.”
Despite the reaction and negative repercussions to his actions, Wallace seemed fairly unperturbed by the controversy not long after he had quit out of the race.
“Bahaha I’m dying at my mentions right now… I ruined so many peoples day by quitting..a video game.. Bahaha. A video game. Damn quarantine life is rough,” the star racer tweeted, after receiving a raft of messages.
Bahaha I’m dying at my mentions right now…
I ruined so many peoples day by quiting..a video game..
Bahaha. A video game. Damn quarantine life is rough???
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) April 5, 2020
Blue-Emu also confirmed that they had been reached out to by one of the event’s organizers to confirm they would not be charged for their short-lived sponsorship.
Regardless, it’s one of the most bizarre stories to emerge from the virtual reorganization of sporting events.