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Bubba Wallace's U.S. Air Force reunion sets up military appreciation campaign

When Bubba Wallace arrives at Dover Motor Speedway, he will continue a longstanding relationship with the U.S. Air Force. He will also use the race weekend to unveil a scheme inspired by the Flying Tigers that flew during World War II from 1941-1942.

The No. 23 Toyota Camry will have details that make it stand out from the other 36 Cup cars on the grid. Most notable will be the open mouth with fearsome teeth on the front.

This design serves as a continuation of Wallace’s relationship with the U.S. Air Force, one that began when he was at Richard Petty Motorsports and included a special scheme inspired by the P-40 Warhawk.

24C23 Xfinity USAF_0011.png
24C23 Xfinity USAF_0011.png

“My first day back in January meeting the new Air Force team, I was like, ‘People want (a Warhawk scheme), I want it. Let's do something and bring it back.’

“So they were like, ‘All right, we’ll work on something.’ And so we come up with the Flying Tigers scheme (for 2024).”

This scheme unveil serves as a prelude to May, Military Appreciation Month. Dover Air Force Base is six miles from Dover Motor Speedway, so the track serves as a fitting location for the special scheme.

The scheme will not be the only part of the celebration. Xfinity, another of Wallace’s key partners, will debut a new ad featuring four Vietnam veterans.

Those veterans will be in attendance at Dover and their names will be on the hood of the No. 23 as Wallace and Xfinity strive to continue showing support for those who focus on keeping the country safe.

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“We're blessed and we're fortunate to get to do all the things we do because of our military women and men,” Wallace said. “You hear stories that sound surreal from their point of view and then vice versa, we share stories. They can't believe it.

“They think that's the coolest thing ever. And you're like, ‘Huh? Are we listening to same story here?’ So it's definitely interesting to have their perspective on life.”

When Wallace moved to 23XI Racing ahead of the 2021 season, the U.S. Air Force did not follow. Instead, the military branch remained at RPM and spent three seasons sponsoring Erik Jones.

This season opened up the opportunity for a reunion. The U.S. Air Force moved its support to 23XI Racing and joined forces with Wallace once again, which paved the way for a scheme refresh.

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“(The Air Force) love to have fun and to make some unique schemes,” Wallace said. “And I push them to do that. I think, ‘Let's be different.’

“We have all the power in our hands to do that, and I appreciate them just being able to go out on a limb and just try new things because it is the military, they have to be very structured and whatnot.”

Despite the structure, there have been numerous opportunities for Wallace to take part in memorable experiences with the U.S. Air Force throughout the years.

Wallace went to the Air Force Academy in Colorado in 2019. He has jumped out of airplanes. He’s flown in a fighter jet on three separate occasions.

“Not to knock any other sponsors, but Air Force is probably one of the coolest ones,” Wallace said.

“I've gotten to eat some worms, be a part of the SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) guys down in Texas. It's always different. … I told my team that (the Air Force is) fun, they want to do a lot, but it's all worth it in the end.”