NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace issued an official statement on June 24, the day after the FBI determined he was not a victim of a hate crime. The racer praised the bureau for taking the threat seriously after NASCAR officials said they found a noose in his garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama on June 21.
Wallace’s full statement said:
It’s been an emotional few days. First off, I want to say how relieved I am that the investigation revealed that this wasn’t what we feared it was. I want to thank my team, NASCAR and the FBI for acting swiftly and treating this as a real threat. I think we’ll gladly take a little embarrassment over what the alternatives could have been. Make no mistake, though some will try, this should not detract from the show of unity we had on Monday, and the progress we’ve made as a sport to be a more welcoming environment for all.
The FBI revealed that the rope, which was fashioned into a noose, had been in garage 4–the one assigned to Wallace–since October 2019. Even though it had been there since the fall, “nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage 4 last week,” the bureau said.
Wallace Was ‘Pissed’ After The FBI’s Investigation Concluded
Hours after their investigation concluded, Wallace appeared on Don Lemon’s CNN talk show where he said he was “pissed” about the incident. “I’m mad because people were trying to test my character and the person I am,” Wallace told Lemon. “They’re not stealing that from me but they’re trying to test that.”
The driver said the garage pull fashioned in the shape of a noose was unlike anything he had seen in a garage before. “From the evidence that we have–that I have–it’s a straight-up noose. The FBI stated that it was a noose. NASCAR said that it was a noose,” he said. “This isn’t something that can be done within a second of just tying a knot… this is something that took time.”
NASCAR President Steve Phelps was the person who told Wallace there was a “noose” in his garage. He didn’t find it himself and Wallace said Phelps had tears in his eyes and was choked up when telling the driver he might have been the victim of a possible hate crime.
“I was taken back,” Wallace told Lemon on June 23. “I never saw the noose. I never reported it.”
NASCAR Was ‘Thankful’ After the FBI Finished Their Investigation
Shortly after the results of the investigation were revealed, NASCAR said they were committed to creating an inclusive environment. “We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba,” they said on June 23.
As cited by Deadline, some people had accused the incident of being fabricated, saying Wallace was trying to garner support for successfully banning the confederate flag in NASCAR, something the driver–the only black racer in the company–pushed for.
“Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the confederate flag will be prohibited from all Nascar events and properties,” they said in their June 10 statement.