NASCAR announced Sunday that it was investigating after a noose was found hanging in driver Bubba Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega on Sunday, nearly two weeks after prohibiting any images or displays of the Confederate flag at events.
Wallace, the African-American driver, 26, responded on Twitter late Sunday, and said the sport has made a commitment to shaping an inclusive community while adding that “we will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate.”
“Today, 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 how persistent we must be in the fight against racism,” Wallace, who drove in a Black Lives Matter car last week, wrote. “As my mother told me today, ‘They are just trying to scare you. 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.”
Wallace was a strong advocate for NASCAR’s decision to ban the Confederate flag, which he pushed for two weeks ago following the death of George Floyd on May 25. The auto racing series said it was “outraged” and declared that this action only “strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all.”
“Late this afternoon, NASCAR was made aware that a noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team,” NASCAR said in a statement Sunday, according to Fox Sports. “We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough seriously we take this heinous act. We have launched an immediate investigation and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport.”
Earlier this month, Wallace said his father, who is white, was worried about his safety, while also proud of everything he was doing off the track.
“Just crazy you have to think about that side of things,” he told Fox News Autos.
Bubba Wallace stands for the national anthem before a NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, June 14, 2020, in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Roughly 5,000 fans were allowed into Talladega to watch the GEICO 500 at Talladega, although they weren’t let into the infield area. The race was delayed until Monday due to rain.
There were informal protests Saturday and Sunday, with cars and pickup trucks driving along nearby roads flying the Confederate flag and parading past the entrance to the superspeedway, located in the heart of the South.
However, there weren’t any reports of flags confiscated or taken down at the track, and NASCAR hasn’t said exactly how it plans to stop displaying the flag on track property. A small plane flew overhead pulling a banner with the flag and the words “Defund NASCAR.”
The ban took effect before last week’s race near Miami, but there were only about 1,000 military members admitted into that race.
Fox News’ Gary Gastelu and the Associated Press contributed to this report