After a NASCAR race at Talladega was postponed to Monday, a noose was found in the garage stall of driver Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. on Sunday. Wallace is the only African American that is a full-time NASCAR driver.
“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,” Wallace stated on his Twitter account.
In an act of unity prior to the race on Monday, fellow drivers and pit crews pushed his car to the end of the pit road and stood with him during pre-race ceremonies.
The act brought Wallace to tears; he posted a selfie with the drivers and pit crews standing behind him on social media with the word “together” as a caption.
Although Wallace came in 14th place, the support he had garnered from his opponents and fans alike was prevalent. He shook hands with fans after the race, some of whom were wearing “Black Lives Matter” shirts. The Talladega speedway displayed the hashtag #IStandWithBubba.
“I wanted to show whoever it was that you’re not going to take away my smile,” Wallace said after the race.
NASCAR launched an immediate investigation to find out who put up the noose on Sunday with the FBI following suit the next day. On Tuesday, the FBI announced that Wallace was not a victim of a hate crime and no charges will be filed.
“The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall,” NASCAR said in its statement. “This was obviously well before the 43 team’s arrival and garage assignment.”
This happened two weeks after NASCAR banned Confederate Flags at their races; Wallace had demanded the flags to be removed.
“Everything kind of changed after the Ahmaud Arbery video,” Wallace said in an interview with NFL veteran Bernard Pollard. “I’m an athlete, I represent a lot of brands and companies and race teams and people personnel, this is so much bigger than that.”
On June 7, Wallace wore a black shirt with the phrases “Black Lives Matter” and “I can’t breathe” during the NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500.
Three days later, Wallace drove a car with a Black Lives Matter paint scheme at the Martinsville Speedway race. The car had the Black Lives Matter hashtag on the rear quarter panels and a large peace sign with hands of people from different races.
Wallace was one of the many NASCAR drivers featured in a video statement showing how NASCAR is against racism.
“You get to see most of the guys get on how they come together and how we come together as a sport and as a community to stand up for what we believe in what is right,” Wallace said in an interview with CNN reporter Don Lemon. “I still encourage from all series and all forms of motor sports to speak up and stand up and speak out, let your voice be heard.”