NASCAR has completed its investigation of a reported noose in the Talladega Superspeedway garage stall of Bubba Wallace found last weekend, NASCAR announced today, June 25.
The announcement comes following the FBI’s revelation it had completed its own investigation on Tuesday, June 23.
The rope was discovered by a Richard Petty Motorsports crew member last Sunday in Wallace’s garage stall. The crew member alerted NASCAR officials, who in turn contacted management.
NASCAR said it fully cooperated with FBI agents, providing them with names, photos and other resources. It determined no hate crime was committed against Wallace because the noose had been in that garage stall since at least last October.
— Dustin Albino (el-bee-no) (@DustinAlbino) June 25, 2020
“As you can see from the photo, the noose was real, as was our concern for Bubba,” NASCAR President Steve Phelps said in a Thursday press conference. “With similar emotion, others across our industry and our media stood up to defend the NASCAR family. Our NASCAR family. Because they are part of the NASCAR family, too. We are proud to see so many stand up for what’s right.”
Because of the emotions and current events, NASCAR said it felt it was important to release a statement Sunday night, which it did.
“Upon learning of and seeing the noose, our initial reaction was to protect our driver,” Phelps added. “We’re living in a highly charged and emotional time. What we saw was a symbol of hate and was only present in one area of the garage and that was of the [No.] 43 car of Bubba Wallace. In hindsight, I should have used the word ‘alleged’ in our statement.”
Upon its discovery, NASCAR had track officials at all its tracks check all garage stalls. Only 11 of them were found to have a pull-down rope tied with a knot, and only the one at Talladega had the noose.
NASCAR has extensively talked with Wood Brothers Racing, the team occupying that garage stall in the last race at Talladega in 2019.
When questioned why the noose went so long without being noticed, Phelps stressed NASCAR and its teams need to do a better job policing the garage for these kinds of sensitivity matters.
“All of our employees in our industry broadly need to go through sensitivity and bias conscious training,” he emphasized. “It’s an important thing to do because I’m sure some — I’m not sure; odds are that someone saw it and didn’t react negatively to it. So we need to make sure that doesn’t happen in the future. So we can sweep garages for nooses, which we will do, but we need to be better as an industry.”
Phelps reiterated that neither Wallace nor anyone at Richard Petty Motorsports did anything wrong.
“I want to thank Bubba Wallace and everyone at Richard Petty Motorsports,” Phelps said in his closing remarks. “Specifically thank Bubba for his leadership over this past three weeks. Bubba has done nothing but represent this sport with courage, class and dignity and he stood tall for what he believes in. And we all need to stand with him, I know I’m going to.”