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by Stu Durando 
photo credit: Laurie Skrivan
 

The relationship started with a sponsorship, the type of big financial commitment every NASCAR driver needs to keep running in the Cup series, the top level of the country's biggest form of racing.

Yet, underlying the standard business deal involving St. Louis businessman David Steward and Bubba Wallace in 2018 was a dynamic that would create a force for change.

 

Bubba Wallace, Dave Steward II, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, David Steward and Curtis Francois in 2019 announcing the renaming the motorsports facility "World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway." The multi-faceted racing venue serves as home to NASCAR, INDYCAR and NHRA racing in the St. Louis region, where WWT was founded and is headquartered. (photo: Jon Knobelock, WWT)

 

Steward founded and owns World Wide Technology, the largest Black-owned company in the country. Wallace is the lone Black driver in the Cup series.

Since their first meeting, some well-publicized and lesser-known events have helped alter NASCAR. Their relationship will reach a crossroads Sunday when Wallace drives in the Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway, where Steward purchased naming rights a year after joining forces with Wallace.

 

 

WWT no longer sponsors Wallace's team, but together and separately they have aided a movement, whether it be the banning of the Confederate flag by NASCAR, implementing diversity programs or embracing Pride month on social media this week.

At a time when the sponsorship of Wallace was ongoing and the naming rights deal freshly inked, Steward was invited in 2019 to be the keynote speaker at the sports diversity and inclusion symposium in Daytona Beach, Florida. That's where his impact on NASCAR began to explode.

 

 

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