Noose Found in Black NASCAR Drivers Garage
Bubba Wallace is the only black driver in the Cup series and was instrumental in NASCAR banning the Confederate flag
The racing world was shocked on Sunday after a blatantly racist attack on the NASCAR Cup Series only black driver, Bubba Wallace. The attack came less than two weeks after Wallace successfully lobbied NASCAR to ban Confederate flags from their racetracks and facilities.
The attack happened Sunday as the team was preparing for he first race with fans at the famed Talladega Motor speedway in Lincoln, Alabama. According to reports from ESPN and a statement from NASCAR, a noose was hung in the garage stall of the 43 car, which is driven by Wallace. Thankfully Wallace did not see or find the noose, rather a member of his team found it before Wallace entered the garage.
The reaction to this racist attack on a Cup series driver has been swift. NASCAR released a statement last night saying:
“We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act,” the series said in a statement. “As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all.” Since it happened in a secure location, the belief is that whoever left the noose was a track official, NASCAR employee, media employee, or a member of an opposing team.
Wallace has been a leader in helping to reform the sport. After the death of George Floyd he began wearing an “I Can’t Breath” t-shirt and ran a race in Homestead with his car painted to say Black Lives Matter. Wallace is the first African-American driver in the Cup Series since Bill Lester retired in 2006 and the first to drive full-time since Wendell Scott in 1971.
In a statement, Wallace said that he was “incredibly saddened” and that this incident “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.”
While the drivers waited through a rain delay that ultimately postponed the race until Monday, fans gathered outside of the track waning and flying Confederate flags while a plane flew over the track carrying a banner that read “Defund NASCAR” and contained a Confederate flag. NASCAR last tried to ban the flag from their events in 2015, but the proposal was largely ignored and not enforced by NASCAR.
Reaction from the drivers has been swift as well. Numerous drivers have put out tweets and statements in support of Wallace and denouncing the action. To show support for Bubba, all of the drivers and their teams marched with and helped to push Wallace’s 43 car out to the front grid and then lined up around him for the National Anthem. NASCAR also painted #IStandwithBubba on the infield. Richard Petty, a racing icon and owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, flew in to stand with Bubba. Wallace is a member of the Richard Petty racing team. Sources told ESPN’s Marty Smith that Petty is attending because the “most important thing for me right now is hugging my driver.” He later issued a statement denouncing the actions and saying that he was enraged that someone would do this to one of his team members. Petty, who is 82, was not at the race on Sunday due to COVID-19 fears. He can be seen in the video below consoling Wallace after he was overcome with emotion.
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) June 22, 2020
“There’s absolutely no place in our sport or society for racism,” wrote the Hall of Famer known simply as “The King.” “This filthy act serves as a reminder of how far we still have to go to eradicate racial prejudice and it galvanizes my resolve to use the resources of Richard Petty Motorsports to create change. This sick person who perpetrated this act must be found, exposed and swiftly and immediately expelled from NASCAR. I believe in my heart this despicable act is not representative of the competitors I see each day in the NASCAR garage area. I stand shoulder to shoulder with Bubba, yesterday, today, tomorrow and every day forward.”
According to the Talladega County Sheriff, NASCAR has contacted the FBI and they will be handling the investigation. This would seem to imply that NASCAR and the FBI are looking at federal hate crime charges against whoever left the noose.
“Regardless of whether federal charges can be brought, this type of action has no place in our society,” said U.S. Attorney Jay Town whose office is taking the lead on investigating the case.