NASCAR has launched an investigation after a noose was found in the garage stall of Bubba Wallace less than two weeks after the only full-time black driver in NASCAR’s elite Cup Series led the charge that resulted in the stock car racing series banning the Confederate flag at its tracks and facilities.
“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 to ESPN. “We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how 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.”
According to the sports network, Wallace never saw the noose; it was first seen by a member of his team, who alerted NASCAR. The incident happened at Talladega, which was scheduled to host a race Sunday. It was postponed until Monday because of bad weather.
“Today’s 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,” Wallace wrote on Twitter.
He spoke about the outpouring of support after his public statement that the confederate flags should “have no place” in the sport led to their ban.
“Over the last several weeks, I have been overwhelmed by the support from people across the NASCAR industry including other drivers and tea members in the garage,” he wrote. “Together, our sport has made a commitment to driving real chance and championing a community that is accepting and welcoming of everyone. Nothing is more important and we will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate.”
Despite today’s incident, Wallace vows to stay the course.
“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 act was widely condemned on Twitter. NBA star LeBron James called it “sickening!” “ Know you don’t stand alone! I’m right here with you as well as every other athlete,” James wrote
During the weekend at Talladega, cars and pickup trucks carrying confederate flags drove along the superspeedway, while a small plane flew overhead, pulling a banner with the flag and the words “Defund NASCAR.”
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