Turns out a noose found in the Talladega Raceway garage assigned the #43 team of African American driver Bubba Wallace was not put there by someone who wanted to threaten him but was a pull strap that has been in the garage since last October. The FBI concluded that it was not a crime.
NASCAR says the noose was discovered Sunday night and the organization says it will find the person or persons responsible and ban them forever from the sport. That threat, we are told, no longer exists.
In a statement from NASCAR:
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. We have launched an immediate investigation and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport. 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.–NASCAR
The race Sunday was the second one with fans allowed in the stands as America eases its restrictions from the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic that has all-but shut down America and the world.
Before the race, a plane towing a large banner of a confederate flag and the words “Defund NASCAR” flew overhead. The Sons of Confederate Veterans claimed it paid for the display while a parade of pickup trucks and vehicles displaying the flag drove by the entrance to the track to try and delay fans trying to enter the parking areas. Reports say some displayed “the finger” towards the track while others shout racial epithets.
Wallace, the only African American driver currently driving in the top-ranked NASCAR series, tweeted:
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,” Wallace wrote on Twitter. “Over the last several weeks I have been overwhelmed by the support from people across the NASCAR industry including other drivers and team members in the garage. Together our sport has made a commitment to driving real change and championing a community that is accepting and welcoming of everyone. Nothing is more important and we will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate. As my mother told me today, ‘They are just trying to scare you.’ This will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down. I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in.”–Bubba Wallace
The fans who came to watch the race complied with NASCAR’s bans of confederate flags and any other items displaying icons of the losing side of the Civil War but vendors across the street from the track entrance hawked flags and other items, including ones that used racial slurs.
Floyd County born Randy Hallman, who writes a racing column for The Richmond Times Dispatch and has authored several books on the support, wrote on Facebook:
My disgust is without limit. No punishment available to NASCAR is enough. U.S. law might get closer. Federal Noose Hate Crime Act of 2011 – fine and/or prison term of up to two years on anyone who, with intent to harass or intimidate any person because of that person’s race, religion, or national origin, displays a noose in public.–Randy Hallman
NASCAR says infield access at Talladega was limited to teams, officials and other credentialed by the organization.
According to Yahoo Sports:
According to NASCAR’s weekend schedule, Cup Series team haulers began entering the infield at Talladega at 5:30 p.m. CT. The garage opened for health screenings for personnel at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning.
Wallace was born in Mobile, Alabama. He wore a shirt that said “I can’t breathe” and “Black Lives Matter” ahead of multiple races after Floyd’s death and drove a car in support of the Black Lives Matter movement at Martinsville.
The BLM car came less than two weeks after NASCAR President Steve Phelps spoke out against racial injustice in a pre-race speech ahead of the Atlanta race. The sanctioning body hosted a moment of silence ahead of the race and multiple drivers teamed up to film a video standing up for equality.
Wallace has said that he’s encouraged others to speak out after Floyd’s death and has found his voice as a champion of social issues over the past month. He’s also been well aware of the pushback he’s received for being a vocal proponent for NASCAR’s flag ban. Wallace said last week that he’d have to be more careful going into the infield when fans return to races.–Yahoo Sports
In Floyd Saturday, a peaceful protest in support of Juneteenth (the end of slavery), Black Lives Matter and against police killings of blacks, was briefly interrupted by a Hanover County man who paraded a confederate flag while marching through the group and shouting racial epithets before a Floyd County deputy led him away and charged him with assault.
Sadly, racial hatred still exists among us.