Monday, the US Attorney’s Office in Alabama confirmed that both the FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division are investigating Sunday’s discovery of a noose in the garage at Talladega Superspeedway belonging to NASCAR’s only black full-time driver, Bubba Wallace.
Hours after Sunday’s race was postponed by rain, NASCAR said the noose had been found, and vowed to do everything possible to find who was responsible and “eliminate them from the sport.”
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said Monday in a statement that she was “shocked and appalled” by the “vile act” against Wallace, an Alabama native.
“There is no place for this disgusting display of hatred in our state,” Ivey said. “Bubba Wallace is one of us; he is a native of Mobile and on behalf of all Alabamians, I apologize to Bubba Wallace as well as to his family and friends for the hurt this has caused and regret the mark this leaves on our state.”
Richard Petty, seven-time NASCAR champion and owner of Wallace’s famed No. 43, flew to Talladega to support his driver. Petty, who turns 83 next month, has not attended a race during the coronavirus pandemic and said in a statement he was “enraged by the act of someone placing a noose in the garage stall of my race team.”
“There’s absolutely no place in our sport or society for racism,” wrote Petty. “This filthy act serves as a reminder of how far we still have to go to eradicate racial prejudice and it galvanizes my resolve to use the resources of Richard Petty Motorsports to create change. This sick person who perpetrated this act must be found, exposed and swiftly and immediately expelled from NASCAR. I believe in my heart this despicable act is not representative of the competitors I see each day in the NASCAR garage area. I stand shoulder to shoulder with Bubba, yesterday, today, tomorrow and every day forward.”
Prior to the start of Monday’s race, drivers and crew members offered a unified show of support for Wallace when they pushed his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet to the front of the grid during pre-race activities.
As described by NASCAR.com, “Wallace was inside the car. A face mask and sunglasses covered his face. When he got out, though, Wallace’s emotions were on full display as he rested his head atop his hands on the hood, body shaking with tears.”
Team owner Richard Petty, who had not attended a race since the COVID-19 pandemic began, put a hand on Wallace’s back to steady him. Petty arrived at Talladega on Monday to support his driver.
Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Ford, then walked over and embraced Wallace in a tight hug. The two are well-documented friends on and off the track. One by one, other drivers approached Wallace with some form of comforting gesture or exchange, before standing together during the invocation and national anthem.