NASCAR now says that driver Bubba Wallace was “not the target of a hate crime” after the FBI concluded that a “garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose” had been in the garage stall since as “early as last fall.” NASCAR now says the FBI has concluded that Wallace was not subjected to an “intentional, racist act.”
That statement came after NASCAR’s earlier contention that a noose was found in the garage stall of Wallace at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
In a June 23, 2020 statement, NASCAR said:
The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime. The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall. This was obviously well before the 43 team’s arrival and garage assignment. We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba. We remain steadfast in our inclusive environment for all who love racing.
U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr. released a joint statement “Regarding the Noose Found in NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace’s Garage at Talladega Superspeedway.
On Monday, fifteen FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway. After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed.
The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week. The investigation also revealed evidence, including authentic video confirmed by NASCAR, that the noose found in garage number 4 was in that garage as early as October 2019. Although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week.
The decision not to pursue federal charges is proper after reviewing all available facts and all applicable federal laws. We offer our thanks to NASCAR, Mr. Wallace, and everyone who cooperated with this investigation.
In the wake of NASCAR’s revelation that a noose was found in the garage stall of driver Bubba Wallace at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, social media was awash with people claiming that NASCAR stated that Wallace mistook a serpentine belt for a noose.
However, the serpentine claim was a hoax, and it’s a different claim from NASCAR’s statement about the garage door pull rope, which is a real statement.
NASCAR did not say that Wallace confused a serpentine belt for a noose or that a serpentine belt was found. In fact, Wallace did not even find the noose himself, according to Cassie Fambro, a journalist with WBRC-TV in Alabama. “FYI: Bubba did not find the noose, it was a team member, and the serpentine belt rumor is fake,” she wrote on Twitter. Politifact also declared that the NASCAR serpentine belt rumor is false, writing, “No, NASCAR didn’t say noose found in Bubba Wallace’s garage was an automotive belt.”
According to Politifact, Facebook flagged the original post on the serpentine belt “as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation.” Heavy has obtained NASCAR’s statement on the Bubba Wallace noose situation, and it doesn’t say anything about a serpentine belt.
FYI: Bubba did not find the noose, it was a team member, and the serpentine belt rumor is fake. pic.twitter.com/tkx3Uk7VmR
— Cassie Fambro WBRC (@FambroMedia) June 22, 2020
The Wall Street Journal reported that both the FBI and the Department of Justice are investigating the discovery of “a noose in the Alabama race-track garage of Bubba Wallace,” and said that “just a small number of racing personnel had access to the garage before the noose was found on Sunday.”
That hasn’t stopped the serpentine belt hoax from taking root on social media. “My husband said they investigated it and it was a serpentine belt used on cars,” one woman wrote. There are many similar posts out there. “my dad saw that I posted about Bubba Wallace on Facebook so he just busted into my room and tried to convince me it was a serpentine belt from one of the cars…LMFAO okay,” wrote another person. Other people brought up Jussie Smollett, with one writing, “It turns out the noose NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace found in his garage stall is a serpentine belt from his car. Another Smollett prank or just that dumb?”
However, again, NASCAR did not say that the noose was a serpentine belt. There’s no evidence to support the rumor that a serpentine belt was found instead of a noose, and the claim traces back to the Facebook page of an Alabama man.
NASCAR has rallied around Wallace, who is black, since the noose incident. Jeff Gluck writes about auto racing for The Athletic Motorsports. He shared a video, writing, “The entire NASCAR garage walks with Bubba Wallace and pushes his car to the front of the field prior to today’s race at Talladega.”
The entire NASCAR garage walks with Bubba Wallace and pushes his car to the front of the field prior to today’s race at Talladega. Video: https://t.co/bZO8WfRQT1
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) June 22, 2020
He also wrote about the NASCAR serpentine belt hoax saying, “Fake news is spreading around Facebook. This is absolutely FALSE. If you see this person, please report them. Thanks to a reader for passing this along.”
Fake news is spreading around Facebook. This is absolutely FALSE. If you see this person, please report them. Thanks to a reader for passing this along. pic.twitter.com/LtWiDjBnJN
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) June 22, 2020
The original post on Facebook was written so it sounded like a NASCAR press release, but that’s not really what NASCAR wrote.
Here’s what you need to know:
NASCAR’s Earlier Statement Expressed Anger & Outrage & Said a Noose Was Found
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 22, 2020
This is the real statement that NASCAR released on June 21.
Late Sunday afternoon, NASCAR was made aware that a noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team. 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. 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.
The false serpentine belt post was written on Facebook so it sounded like a press release from NASCAR, complete with a Talladega dateline:
Talladega, Ala. – NASCAR said a serpentine belt was confused as a noose in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega Speedway in Alabama on Sunday. Wallace, who is from Mobile, is the only Black driver in the Cup Series
In a statement released Sunday night, NASCAR said, ‘Late this afternoon, NASCAR was made aware that something that resembled a noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team. We were angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we took this allegation. We launched an immediate investigation, and determined Bubba Wallace had mistaken a 26″ serpentine automotive belt for a noose.’
The above false post, however, was not released by NASCAR.
The Facebook post by Chris McDonald has more than 10,000 shares (although the one visible on his page appears to be a screenshot of a post he made hours before). The man who posted it on Facebook has filled his page with criticism of Black Lives Matter. He’s posted several comments and posts questioning the NASCAR noose story, writing, “LOL the point is nobody can show a picture of a noose” and posting a meme of Jussie Smollett. He also tried to claim in one post that it was really a “Kevlar automotive belt” without providing evidence. He shared a photo of himself with a filter reading “Trump 2020 Keep America Great.” McDonald’s Facebook page says that he’s from Mobile, Alabama.
On June 21, he wrote, “Things you will never see on CNN! ❤️❤️❤️❤️ Black Voices for Trump is one of the fastest growing political groups in the nation!” He also shared conspiracy theories about George Floyd, writing, “We have been bamboozled LOL this guy isn’t dead!!! He’s bald in one picture and has hair in the other and the other he is bald as a thumb.” He shared a photo he claimed was of a Philadelphia news station reporting on the noose, but the photos actually appear with an unrelated crime story on that station’s website.
McDonald’s LinkedIn page says he’s an independent consultant in the Greater New Orleans area and has worked as chief executive officer for an automotive group in Mobile that sells cars.
Wallace also released a real statement before the June 23 revelation about the pull rope. It reads,
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) June 22, 2020
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. 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.
Bob Pockrass, a Fox Sports reporter, tweeted, “NASCAR says it will work with law enforcement to determine if any crimes have been committed.of a noose being placed in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall.”
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at its events.