Photo Released of Noose Found in Bubba Wallace's Garage, FBI Finds No Hate Crime
Wallace is NASCAR's only Black driver and a central figure in the ban.
Update 6/25: Per Jeff Gluck on Twitter: "NASCAR just released a photo of the garage pull rope that was fashioned into a noose at Talladega."
Update 6/23: An FBI investigation has determined NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace wasn't specifically targeted during an incident this past weekend where a noose was discovered in his team garage at Talladega Superspeedway. Rather, the garage pull, which photos posted to Twitter show was indeed tied to look like a noose, had been in place since at least October 2019. In the wake of the initial discovery, NASCAR drivers and teams rallied around Wallace, pushing his car to the head of pit lane for the national anthem ahead of the rain-delayed GEICO 500.
Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in NASCAR, recently lobbied the racing series to ban displays of the Confederate battle flag at its events, which the series quickly agreed to do on June 10. On Sunday, NASCAR revealed a noose was discovered in the team garage for Wallace's No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. The racist, threatening gesture recalled the brutal lynchings of Black Americans. It was not seen by the Alabama-born Wallace but instead found and reported by a member of his team, according to ESPN.
Progress rarely comes swiftly, but backlash is often immediate. Reactions to NASCAR's ban on Confederate imagery earlier this month ranged from supportive to what can only be called deranged, as the nation remains wracked by a reckoning over systemic racism. At the same time the noose was found, a number of fans lined up outside the track to display Confederate flags while a plane flew overhead trailing a banner with the flag and the message, "Defund NASCAR." NASCAR's overdue ban on Confederate symbols comes as protests around the country also focus on the removal and/or destruction of monuments celebrating major figures and elements of the Confederacy, which lost the American Civil War as it fought to preserve the institution of slavery.
As in most top-tier racing series, the NASCAR garage area is largely off-limits to the public, which could indicate someone affiliated with the series, another team, or the Talladega track may be responsible. For its part, NASCAR immediately launched in investigation into the incident, adding via a statement that it is "angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act. We have launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport." The top-tier stock-car series has long lacked minority representation, and it seems at least one person wanted to send a message they'd prefer NASCAR to stay that way, or at least they be able to fly a flag many Americans consider to be racist.
In a statement of his own, Wallace said, "Today's despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism."