The FBI and NASCAR have confirmed that the noose found in Bubba Wallace‘s car garage had already been there for months.
A crew member of Richard Petty Motorsports found the noose Sunday and immediately contacted the FBI. Fifteen agents were sent to the Talladega circuit in Alabama. The discovery was made only two weeks after Wallace’s request for NASCAR’s banning of the Confederate flag was approved.
On Tuesday, the FBI announced that the noose found hanging in Wallace’s car garage was actually a pull rope that had been there since October. This was before the garage stall was assigned to Wallace, the series’ only black driver.
Wallace was only assigned the garage stall last week. The FBI reviewed security footage that showed the pull rope was put up almost eight months ago.
The U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI released a statement in which they concluded no federal crime was committed. The statement claimed the 15 agents led several interviews about the circumstances at Talladega Superspeedway.
NASCAR confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that footage and photographs show the pull rope in the stall since last fall, just coincidentally being placed similar to a noose. NASCAR also made it clear that Wallace was assigned his stall long after the rope was placed in it.
They said they were pleased to find out this was not an “intentional, racist act” against the NASCAR driver, and acknowledged the FBI’s efficient and detailed investigation.
Steve Phelps, NASCAR’s president, claimed the rope had gone unnoticed. This was due to the fact there had not been any racing at the speedway since October. He wanted to be clear in stating that Wallace or his team were in no way directly targeted by this situation.
Phelps has promised to continue an investigation within NASCAR to find out why the rope was placed in a noose-style fashion to begin with.
When the noose was found in his garage, Wallace said in a statement that the discovery would not stop him from expressing his beliefs or discourage him.
On Monday, NASCAR drivers showed unity and support for their fellow racer as they walked behind Wallace as he drove his car onto the track at Talladega. Phelps expressed great appreciation for their actions and classified the event as one of NASCAR’s “most important days.”
Change Not Being Welcomed
It is apparent that the league’s motion is not being welcomed as much as previously perceived. Although NASCAR is committed to enacting change within the series and its community, it is reasonable to assume it will be a slow process.
With only one black competitor, NASCAR does not have a good track record for displaying diversity and has been questioned for its acceptance of the Confederate flag in the past.
Fans are upset that what they consider tradition is being banned. Many of those who usually bring Confederate flags to races either do not know what the flag represents or understand what it symbolizes to so many and choose to accept it and promote it.
Although fans have not yet disobeyed the new rules within the speedway, with this recent display, it is clear people are not happy about the change.
Wallace has expressed the need to eliminate the flag because of the meaning it has for so many Americans, black people, and NASCAR fans alike. He does not feel it is justified to allow the Confederate flag at races, regardless of tradition, because of the implications the flag brings to those made uncomfortable by it.
It is important for NASCAR to stay true to its word and continue to make systemic change throughout the league, not only when they are being put in the spotlight.