NASCAR is responding to a “heinous” incident that occurred at the Talladega Superspeedway ahead of the now-postponed Geico 500.
In a statement released Sunday evening, NASCAR revealed it had been notified that afternoon that a noose was found at the front of the garage stall of the 43 team. The driver for that team, Bubba Wallace, is the only black driver at NASCAR’s highest level and the man who urged the sport to ban the Confederate flag at its races.
NASCAR said it is “angry and outraged” and has launched an investigation into the incident.
“(We) will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport,” NASCAR said in the 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.”
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) June 22, 2020
Wallace took to Twitter on Sunday with his own statement condemning the hateful act.
“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 how persistent we must be in the fight against racism,” Wallace wrote. “Over the last several weeks, I have been overwhelmed by the support from people across the NASCAR industry including other drivers and team members in the garage. Together, our sport has made a commitment to driving real change 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.
“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.”
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) June 22, 2020
Several fans protested NASCAR’s decision to ban the Confederate flag prior to Sunday’s race by lining the boulevard behind the track while proudly displaying the flag. A plane towing the Confederate flag and the phrase “Defund NASCAR” flew above the track, as well.