The FBI and Justice Department announced they found no federal crime was committed after a noose was found in the car stall of NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
Wallace, the first black driver in the NASCAR Cup Series since 1971, "was not the target of a hate crime," said a joint statement released on Tuesday from U.S. Attorney Jay Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr.
"The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall," the statement added, saying “although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week.”
NASCAR also released a statement.
"The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime," NASCAR said. "The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall. This was obviously well before the 43 team’s arrival and garage assignment. We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing.”
ESPN reported that Wallace never saw the noose, but that one of his team members spotted it last week and quickly reported it to NASCAR.
Wallace pushed for the Confederate flag to be banned from NASCAR events, and the racing league said on June 10 it was banning the display of the Confederate flag at all of its events and properties.
Wallace, who drives the No. 43 Chevrolet for racing legend Richard Petty's team, released a statement on Sunday, saying that 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 that he would not be “deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate.”
NASCAR, which restricts access to garages to limited number of drivers, crew and other staffers, vowed to ban whoever was responsible for placing the noose in Wallace’s garage from the sport for life.
"There were video cameras but there were not cameras where the noose was hung," Wallace’s mother, Desiree, told SiriusXM's Joe Madison this week. "See, everybody thinks there are cameras around there, they know who's done it. Unfortunately, it's not that simple."
Wallace, the first black driver in the NASCAR Cup Series since 1971, wore an “I can’t breathe” shirt at one of his races following the death of George Floyd in police custody and said that one of the next steps to ensure people feel safe at races was to remove Confederate flags from NASCAR events.
The race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln on Sunday was postponed due to bad weather, but not before fans saw a plane fly above towing a banner of the Confederate flag with the message: "Defund NASCAR." The race was rescheduled for Monday afternoon.
Before Monday’s race at Talladega, Wallace was joined by all 39 other drivers and their crews in a march down pit road in a moment of solidarity.
As he wept, Wallace said "this sport is changing.”
"The prerace deal was probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to witness in my life,” he said. “From all the supporters, from drivers to crew members, everybody here, the badass fan base, thank you guys for coming out. This is truly incredible, and I'm glad to be a part of this sport.''