NASCAR released the picture of the noose hanging in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall on Thursday. And as you can see from the photo it provided below, the garage rope in Wallace’s stall is very clearly tied into a noose.
The noose was found Sunday by a member of Wallace’s crew at Talladega. Wallace never saw the noose on Sunday or had access to the garage. NASCAR said it began an investigation and found that no other garage stall ropes were tied into nooses.
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“As you can see from the photo, the noose was real, as was our concern for Bubba,” NASCAR president Steve Phelps said.
“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.”
NASCAR also said that a thorough investigation of every garage it hosts races at found that just 11 garage pull ropes of 1,684 searched were tied into knots. Just one was tied into a noose. That one was in the stall that Wallace occupied at Talladega. Wallace is the only Black driver who races full-time at any of NASCAR’s top levels.
The FBI said Tuesday that no charges would be filed after 15 agents investigated the noose. It was found to be in the stall since October of 2019, when the Wood Brothers Racing team had the same garage stall. A WBR team member told the FBI that he remembered seeing the knot on the team’s garage rope nine months ago.
Per Phelps, security footage from the Talladega race weekend showed that the noose had been formed at some point while NASCAR was at the track. But since garage access was much more wide open and fans were able to roam the garage area, NASCAR has not been able to determine who tied the rope into a noose.
“We were unfortunately unable to determine with any certainty who tied this rope in this manner or why it was done,” Phelps said.
“And we know it brings up another question, ‘How could this have gone unnoticed by so many people in October of 2019 and on the morning of June 21, 2020?’ Our ultimate conclusion from this investigation is to ensure that this never happens again. That no one walks by a noose without recognising the potential damage that it can do. Moving forward, we will be conducting thorough sweeps of the garage area to ensure nothing like this happens again and we are installing additional cameras in all of our garages.”
Phelps also said that “all members of our industry” would go through unconscious bias and sensitivity training.
Phelps apologises for not using word ‘alleged’
NASCAR president Steve Phelps explained why NASCAR was on edge during its first race weekend in Alabama since it banned the Confederate flag on June 10 and the state’s history. Hours after the noose was discovered, NASCAR issued a statement that said whoever committed the “heinous act” of hanging a noose in Wallace’s garage would be banned for life.
Phelps said he apologised for not using the word “alleged” in that statement as the FBI ultimately figured out the noose had been present since last year. But he didn’t regret the seriousness with which NASCAR took the noose. He said the sanctioning body’s instinct was to protect Wallace.
“And should we have toned that message down slightly? Maybe we should have,” Phelps said.
“And I'll take responsibility for that. I stand by the actions that we took and I think they were the right ones.
“And as I said before, given the evidence that we had, we would do, we would do the same thing, we would investigate it the same way.
“If it comes to where we need to craft a statement differently, and I need to take a little less emotion out of it, that's something I'll do, I'll take responsibility for that.”
Wallace has been outspoken about racial inequality since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. He wore a shirt paying tribute to Floyd ahead of races at Atlanta and Martinsville and even drove a Black Lives Matter car at Martinsville.
That Martinsville race came on the same day NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from all track properties. Wallace said two days before NASCAR announced its ban that he wanted to see the flag barred.