After several days of outrage and embarrassment, NASCAR received what many would have seen as ostensibly good news on Tuesday: The “noose” that was found in driver Bubba Wallace’s garage stall was apparently no noose at all, but rather a looped piece of rope used as a garage door pull.
This determination was made by a team of 15 FBI agents who investigated the scene at the fabled Talladega race track, and it came as a relief to many sports fans. Certainly, no decent human being was rooting for some hidden racists to be lurking within the NASCAR ecosystem, and the FBI’s determination that the garage pull had been shaped like that all the way back to October seemed to bolster this case of mistaken identity.
NASCAR and Bubba Wallace aren’t so sure, however.
The FBI announced Tuesday afternoon its investigators concluded that the noose found in Bubba Wallace and the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team’s garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday was not a federal crime. Its investigation determined that the noose had been in the garage stall since at least October 2019, when the NASCAR Cup Series last race at the Alabama track prior to Monday’s GEICO 500.
On a conference call with reporters Tuesday evening, NASCAR president Steve Phelps said the FBI “definitively” determining someone did not commit a hate crime against Wallace was “the best result we could hope for.” But he also said the governing body is continuing its own investigation to figure out how and why a rope in the garage was made into a noose.
Wallace himself weighed in as well.
“I was relieved, just like many others, to know that it wasn’t targeted towards me,” Wallace told NBC’s “Today” about the noose. “But it’s still frustrating to know that people are always going to test you and always just going to try and debunk you, and that’s what I’m trying to wrap my head around now.”
Since the FBI’s findings were released on Tuesday, Wallace has endured people questioning whether he overreacted or even made the whole thing up. But Wallace didn’t discover the noose, which was used as a garage pull, and never saw it in person. It was discovered by one of his teammates, who immediately reported it. Wallace was told about the noose by NASCAR president Steve Phelps, and the image he was shown remains with him.
“The photo evidence I’ve seen and have in my possession [shows] it was a garage pull that was a noose,” Wallace said. “I don’t know when we’ll get to the point that we’ll release that image. … It’s alerting and it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.”
When it comes to racism in America, hyper-vigilance seems to be the name of the game in 2020.
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