NASCAR said a noose was found hanging in driver Bubba Wallace's garage at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama Sunday. NASCAR called it a "heinous act" and launched an investigation. Wallace, a Black driver, also shared a statement, calling it a "despicable act of racism and hatred." Earlier in the day, a giant Confederate flag was flown over the speedway before the Geico 500 in defiance of NASCAR's ban of the flag at all events.
"Late this afternoon, NASCAR was made aware that a noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team. We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act," NASCAR said in a statement Sunday evening. "We have launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport." At the end of the statement, NASCAR reiterated there "is no place for racism" in NASCAR and the noose discovery "only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all."
In his own statement, Wallace said the noose was 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." He said he was "overwhelmed" by the support he received within the NASCAR community as he continued to show support for Black Lives Matter at races. "As my mother told me today, 'They are just trying to scare you,'" Wallace 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."
Back on June 10, NASCAR banned all displays of the Confederate battle flag at NASCAR events after Wallace and other drivers spoke out in support of protests against systemic racism and police brutality. NASCAR said the flag "runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment" for fans and drivers.
Wallace has been wearing Black Lives Matter shirts to races since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Before NASCAR banned the Confederate flag, he told CNN that "no one should feel uncomfortable" at a NASCAR race. NASCAR previously asked fans to stop displaying the flag in 2015, and even though Dale Earnhardt Jr. supported the move, fans continued bringing the flag to events.
Even though the ban was in place at Talladega, the Confederate flag was still seen. Someone flew a giant fly over the speedway, along with a banner reading "Defund NASCAR." The race never got underway though, as a storm forced NASCAR to delay the race. It was rescheduled for Monday at 3 p.m. ET.