On Sunday evening at the Talladega Speedway, a noose was found in the garage stall of the Richard Petty Motorsports team. Bubba Wallace drives the number 43 car for RPM. An Alabama native, Wallace is currently the only driver in NASCAR who is biracial.
Law enforcement authorities were called in immediately to investigate the incident.
After an investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Alabama determined that the noose had not been placed in the garage stall on Sunday; but rather, had been left from last fall.
As a result of the investigation, authorities said, “after a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding the event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed.”
While federal authorities have completed their investigation, NASCAR President Steve Phelps said, “the sanctioning body was still investigating why the rope was tied into a noose in October.”
In a statement issued by NASCAR, “we are thankful that there was no one involved in perpetrating hate during this weekend’s race. Just like the rest of the NASCAR garage, we were shocked and appalled to learn of the existence of the rope fashioned like a noose.”
NASCAR added, “it was thankful that there was no intentional act committed against Wallace.”
Phelps added, “I do want to make sure everyone understands that if given the evidence that we had was delivered to us on [Sunday] night or late [Sunday] afternoon, we would do the same thing. We would have done the same investigation. It was important for us to do. There is no place in our sport for this type of racism or hatred. It’s not part of who we are as a sport.”
NASCAR assigns garage stalls to the teams based on the standings after the previous race. When NASCAR was at Talladega in October of 2019, The Wood Brothers number 21 car was assigned the same garage stall. A crew member from The Wood Brothers noted that he had seen the same noose when the team occupied the garage stall.
A crew member from RPM found the noose. Driver Bubba Wallace who has been deeply affected by recent events never saw the noose, but only learned about the incident later.
Wallace’s fellow drivers quickly rallied around the driver offering support by pushing his car to the front of the field prior to the performance of the National Anthem. The drivers and teams all stood with Wallace and hugged him prior to the race. Car owner Richard Petty stood with his driver during the anthem.