Story at a glance
- A noose was found in a garage stall assigned to Bubba Wallace, a Black driver, during a recent race.
- The FBI investigated the incident and said Wallace was not targeted, as the noose had been there much earlier.
- Wallace and NASCAR have defended their swift reaction to the discovery of the noose.
While the FBI decided no federal crime was committed after discovering a noose at a garage stall assigned to Bubba Wallace, the symbolism of the image still weighed heavily on the first Black full-time NASCAR driver.
“It was a noose whether tied in 2019 or whatever,” Wallace told CNN. “It was a noose. Wasn’t directed at me, but somebody tied a noose.”
NASCAR has since released a photograph of the noose found in the garage stall.
NASCAR releases photo to the media of the garage pull rope formed as a noose from the Bubba Wallace garage Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) June 25, 2020
This image was provide by NASCAR. pic.twitter.com/Z4ZyBzpREF
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In their official statement, the FBI said the noose was in the garage as early as October 2019, according to video confirmed by NASCAR, before the garage stall was assigned to Wallace for the race this week. Still, NASCAR President Steve Phelps defended the decision to call in the FBI and investigate the incident, saying that he would make the same decision again considering the evidence initially presented.
"What we saw was a symbol of hate in the garage," Phelps said at a press conference, adding that "anyone who would suggest this was a hoax, I find personally offensive. I don't know how people think that way."
According to the Houston Chronicle, NASCAR said Wallace's stall was the only one in the garage where the pull-down rope had been fashioned into a noose. Phelps said the company has since checked more than 1,600 garages in tracks used by NASCAR. Only 11 had ropes tied in a knot and none of them were tied in a noose, except the one found in Talladega, the Chronicle reported.
“We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing,” NASCAR said in a statement.
The driver also released a statement on Twitter, saying that while he was glad that he was not targeted, he was grateful for how the situation was handled.
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