The FBI said Tuesday a noose found in the team garage of NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace at the Talladega Superspeedway has been there since last year and he, therefore, is not a victim of a hate crime.
NASCAR, mentioning the FBI report, described the item as a “garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose.”
“The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week,” the agency said in a statement Tuesday. “The investigation also revealed evidence, including authentic video confirmed by NASCAR, that the noose found in garage number 4 was in that garage as early as October 2019. Although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week.”
NASCAR issued a statement regarding the FBI’s decision saying, “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.
The discovery of the noose Sunday afternoon in Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega came as the United States, and NASCAR in particular, more squarely address America’s systemic racism in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.
Wallace, the only Black driver in NASCAR’s top circuit, has been an outspoken advocate of the Black Lives Matter movement and the corresponding protests against racism and police brutality.
In a teleconference on Tuesday, NASCAR president Steve Phelps said that the FBI’s finding is the “best result we could hope for.”
“The (No.) 43 team had nothing to do with this,” said Phelps. Wallace drives the No. 43 car.
Phelps did not take questions from the media on the call.
A NASCAR spokesman said on the call that while the federal investigation is finished, NASCAR’s investigation continues.
Wallace wore an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt before one event, repainted his car with the “Black Lives Matter” phrase and called on NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag, which the organization agreed to do June 10.
NASCAR said that Wallace never saw the noose. A member of his team discovered it and immediately brought it to NASCAR’s attention.
Wallace tweeted Sunday that the “despicable act” left him “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.”
“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,” Wallace said.
On Monday, NASCAR drivers, pit crew members and others walked alongside Wallace and escorted his No. 43 car in a show of support for the conclusion of the race.