NASCAR says a noose was found Sunday in Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway.
Wallace is the lone Black driver in the Cup Series, and his public statements about the Confederate flag are considered the tipping point in its removal. NASCAR announced the ban of the Confederate flag June 10.
“Late this afternoon, NASCAR was made aware that a noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team,” the organization said in a statement. “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.”
According to published reports, the noose was found before Sunday’s scheduled start of the GEICO 500. Rain eventually forced NASCAR to postpone the race to Monday at 2 p.m.
Because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, NASCAR allowed no more than 5,000 fans into the facility Sunday, and they were prohibited from the infield area. That’s where the garage stalls are located. Only NASCAR-approved personnel are allowed there.
Wallace released his own statement on Twitter on Sunday night:
“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. 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.”
On Saturday and Sunday, a group of cars, trucks and motorcycles drove up and down Speedway Boulevard flying Confederate flags. Also on Sunday, a plane circled the speedway for about 20 minutes before the scheduled race, trailing a Confederate flag and a banner that said “Defund NASCAR”. According to a Twitter post by Associated Press reporter Jenna Fryer, someone claiming to represent the Sons of Confederate Veterans sent an email claiming credit for the plane.
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