The noose found in Bubba Wallace’s garage Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway had been there since at least October 2019 and thus was not targeted for Wallace, an FBI investigation concluded Tuesday.
The FBI announced that no evidence of a hate crime was found after 15 special agents conducted interviews Monday.
Wallace is the only Black driver on NASCAR’s premier Cup Series and the leading voice behind the sport’s push for racial equality, including its recent ban of the Confederate flag at its facilities.
“After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed,” the FBI said in a statement. “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.”
NASCAR also issued a statement Tuesday, reading, “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 commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing.”
At Wallace’s urging less than two weeks ago, NASCAR banned the presence of the Confederate flag at racetracks, although a small plane flew above the track on Sunday with a Confederate flag banner and text reading, “DEFUND NASCAR.” Several vehicles outside the grounds also displayed the flag before the race was pushed back to Monday due to inclement weather.
The noose was found by a Richard Petty Motorsports crew member on Sunday, bringing immediate rebukes from Wallace and NASCAR, and leading to the FBI’s involvement.
All NASCAR drivers and crew members supported Wallace before the Geico 500 ultimately started Monday, pushing him in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet up pit road and into the symbolic front of the starting grid. Wallace climbed out of his car and was moved to tears.
NASCAR legend Richard Petty, the owner of Wallace’s team, stood next to Wallace during the national anthem, and the infield grass on the front stretch was painted with words reading: #IStandWithBubba.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)