TALLADEGA, Ala. – A noose was found in the garage stall of Black driver Bubba Wallace at the NASCAR race in Alabama on Sunday, less than two weeks after he successfully pushed the stock car racing series to ban the Confederate flag at its tracks and facilities.
NASCAR said it had launched an immediate investigation and will do everything possible to find out who was responsible and “eliminate them from the sport.”
“We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act,” the series said in a statement. "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.”
Wallace is the only fulltime Black driver in NASCAR's elite Cup Series. On Twitter, he said the “the 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 ow persistent we must be in the fight against racism.”
“As my mother told me today, ‘They are just trying to scare you,'” he wrote. “ This will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down. I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in.”
The noose was discovered on the same day NASCAR's fledgling flag ban faced its biggest challenge. The ban took effect before last week's race near Miami, but there were only about 1,000 military members admitted into that race.
At Talladega, in the heart of the South, as many as 5,000 fans were allowed in, even though rain postponed the race until Monday and visitors were barred from the infield.
There weren't any immediate reports of how many flags were confiscated or taken down at the track, if any — but the flag was present nearby. There were informal protests Saturday and Sunday alike, with cars and pickup trucks driving along nearby roads flying the flag and parading past the entrance to the superspeedway. A small plane flew overhead pulling a banner with the flag and the words “Defund NASCAR.”