A noose was found in the garage stall used by NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in the sport’s top level, just days after the racing organization banned the display of the Confederate flag at all its events and properties.
Earlier this month, Wallace called for the flag to be prohibited earlier this month as protests over police brutality and systemic inequality raged across the country. But the decision sparked controversy among the sport’s mostly white, Southern fan base who argued the flag — a symbol long linked to America’s history of racism — is part of their heritage.
The noose was found in the garage stall for the No. 43 car racing team, which is owned by Richard Petty Motorsports. It’s unclear who has access to the stalls. Nooses are one of the most powerful symbols of hate directed toward Black Americans and tied to the history of lynchings in the South, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Wallace said in a statement on Twitter: “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,”
NASCAR condemned the act later Sunday, saying it was “angry and outraged” and couldn’t “state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act.” It said whoever was found responsible would be ejected from the body.
“We have launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport,” the company said. “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.”
The racing body banned the Confederate flag shortly after Wallace issued his own call to do so, saying the symbol ran “contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry.” The driver had said he had to reckon with his own relationship to the symbol and had come to the conclusion it did not represent anything but hate.