UPDATE: An FBI investigation states Bubba Wallace was not the victim of a hate crime and that the rope which was found in his garage was a garage pull door that had been there since as early as last fall.
Bubba Wallace was the victim of racial intimidation over the weekend, according to NASCAR. According to a statement, Wallace, who is the only black driver in NASCAR, had a noose placed in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama.
The incident occurred less than two weeks after Wallace called for a Confederate flag ban at speedways and racing events which NASCAR has since effectively put into place.
The race at Talladega — which was ultimately postponed due to weather — would have been the first since NASCAR’s Confederate flag ban.
“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. “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.”
Wallace also released a statement of his own, calling the incident a “despicable act of racism and hatred.”
“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.”
On Sunday afternoon, there was also a line of vehicles flying the Confederate flag and a plane flew over the track with a banner featuring the Confederate flag and the message “Defund NASCAR.”
The race will now take place on Monday, June 22 at 3:00 p.m. ET. NASCAR has opened the track to 5,000 fans, marking it the first time a race will be held in front of a live audience during the coronavirus pandemic.