Bubba Wallace, the NASCAR driver whose call to remove the Confederate flag from NASCAR spurred the racing series to ban it from its races and properties, appeared to be threatened with a hate crime at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama, on Sunday.
According to NASCAR, a noose was found in Wallace’s garage.
“Late this afternoon, NASCAR was made aware that a noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team. We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act,” NASCAR said in a statement.
NASCAR responded decisively and said that it would conduct an investigation and ban the people responsible.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 22, 2020
The FBI eventually got involved and the result of the investigation determined it was the garage door’s pull rope.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 23, 2020
Wallace, who drives the No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro for Petty Motorsports, reportedly never saw the noose. After it was discovered, though, he responded on Twitter by saying he was saddened by the incident, but he has received support in the weeks since his protest and said he won’t back down.
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) June 22, 2020
Thus far, Wallace hasn’t responded to the result of the investigation. On Monday at the GEICO 500 on Monday, rival drivers, pit crew members, team owner Richard Petty, and other well wishers escorted Wallace’s car in a show of support. Wallace was emotional after the show of support and tweeted a video of the mini-parade.
My family. pic.twitter.com/031TvNDopA
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) June 23, 2020
The noose is a symbol of the lynching of Black people, a practice that killed 3,446 Black people from 1892 to 1968, according to the NAACP.
The noose may have turned out to be misunderstood, but the race had other racial issues. Shortly before the race, a plane flew over the track towing a Confederate flag and a banner that read “Defund NASCAR.” According to the Washington Post, a small protest was held outside the track with about two dozen people in trucks carrying Confederate flags. There were no reports of Confederate flags on track grounds. The “Defund NASCAR” banner was a take-off on the “Defund the Police” slogan used by many protesters after the death of George Floyd on May 25.
Wallace, who is NASCAR’s only Black driver and an Alabama native, spoke out June 10 when he called on NASCAR to remove the Confederate flag from its events, then drove a car with the #BlackLivesMatter livery in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville.