Bubba Wallace Jun 24, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace (23) watches during qualifying before the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

In recent years, NASCAR has taken big strides in its attempts to diversify its fanbase, and it had a new plan to try to get a diverse audience into its first-ever NASCAR Chicago Street Race this weekend: give away free tickets.

Last week, NASCAR teamed up with Bubba Wallace – the only full-time Black driver in the Cup Series – for a free event called “Bubba’s Block Party,” which was attended by about 4,000 people. At the event, which took place in the South Side of Chicago, well-known Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco performed.

The event – and another in the West Side of Chicago – was organized to help bring NASCAR to a wider and more diverse audience in the city, with “Bubba’s Block Party” geared toward the Black community. And as part of that initiative, NASCAR also gave out free ticket vouchers for the Chicago Street Race.

NASCAR is aware that some people might be upset that free ticket vouchers were distributed, especially considering that the cheapest tickets cost $269. But they are committed to diversifying the sport.

“Introducing our sport to a new audience is why we are here,” said Julie Giese, president of the Chicago street race, according to Fox Sports. “We made a commitment on Day 1 with the city of Chicago that we were going to invest in the community, be here year-round, build programs to support the community and understand all the different opportunities and ways to be part of NASCAR.”

NASCAR Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Brandon Thompson echoed those comments, making it clear that NASCAR is committed to reaching new audiences.

“Both of [these events] embody what the race is sort of dreamed up to be in terms of giving us an opportunity to branch out and reach new audiences,” Thompson said. “But more important is to show up in the community and to be a part and an active participant in the community. … As we ramp up to the race, it’s really unique for us as NASCAR to be able to do these type of things.”

[Fox Sports]