THE noose found hanging in Black Nascar driver Bubba Wallace’s stall was not a hate crime, the FBI has said, and the rope was in fact already in the garage before Wallace and his team arrived.
Wallace, Nascar’s only black driver, had said he was the target of a hate crime, after his pivotal role in banning the Confederate flag from rallies.
Bubba Wallace was emotional after the outpouring of support from his drivers[/caption]
“The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week,” a joint statement from US Attorney Jay Town and FBI Special Agent Johnnie Sharp Jr read.
“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 has released a statement confirming the FBI’s findings, saying it appreciated the FBI’s “quick and thorough investigation”.
“We are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba.”
On Monday, 15 FBI special agents conducted “numerous interviews” regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway, the FBI added in its statement.
“After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed.”
Wallace was instrumental in the Confederate Flag ban from rallies, which went into effect earlier this month, and has seen an outpouring of support from his racing rivals and colleagues.
On Monday, Wallace steered his number 43 car to the front of the grid, as NASCAR champion Kyle Busch pushed on one side, and Ryan Blaney, another racer, pushed the other.
Crew members and the entire 40 driver-strong field followed behind.
As the car came to a stop, an emotional Wallace climbed out, sat on the window ledge and sobbed.
Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, is greeted by Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Light Ford[/caption]
Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, is greeted by Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet[/caption]
NASCAR drivers pushed Wallace to the front of the grid as a sign of solidarity with the driver prior to the NASCAR Cup Series[/caption]
Drivers pushed Wallaces car as a sign of solidarity with the driver prior to the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on June 22, 2020[/caption]
Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500[/caption]
Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, and team owner, and NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty stand for the national anthem[/caption]
Wallace spearheaded a successful campaign to ban the flag from races this month and has been pictured in a unique BLM livery.
The race driver had posted on Twitter: “The 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.
“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.”
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Wallace – who drives for Richard Petty Motorsports – said: “Over the last several weeks, I have been overwhelmed by the support from people across the NASCAR industry including other drivers and tea members in the garage.
“Together, our sport has made a commitment to driving real chance 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.”