Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

FBI Says Noose Was There for Months, NASCAR Takes Premature Victory Lap

Bubba Wallace shared an emotional moment with team owner Richard Petty on Monday at Talladega Superspeedway.
Bubba Wallace shared an emotional moment with team owner Richard Petty on Monday at Talladega Superspeedway.
Image: Getty Images

Good news everyone! The noose found in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega Raceway had been there for months, not days!

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That was the sentiment from NASCAR President Steve Phelps.

Phelps held a quick press conference Tuesday night, moments after the FBI announced its conclusion of an investigation into the noose found in Wallace’s garage stall. It had been there as far back as October, when the last race was held at Talladega — and thus not a hate crime directed at Wallace, NASCAR’s only full-time black driver.

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“For us at NASCAR, this is the best result we could hope for,” said Phelps. “It was disturbing to hear that it was thought that one of our own had committed this heinous act. It is fantastic to hear from the FBI definitively that there was not a hate crime.”

The reason for that concern is because the noose was found in a secure area, where only drivers, team members and medical, track and NASCAR officials have access. So it was believed by some within NASCAR that the noose had to have been placed there by someone in the NASCAR family. That it was an inside job.

According to the FBI’s statement, that’s not the case. Here are the findings it announced Tuesday:

“On Monday, 15 FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway. After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding the event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed,” read the statement.

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“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.”

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First let’s make one thing clear. It was indeed a noose that was apparently used as a door hold and had been there for months without anyone noticing or, more likely, caring. It was not a door hold mistaken for noose. “It was a noose, yes,” said a NASCAR source who saw the evidence. That also came from Phelps’ own mouth.

“The evidence is very clear that the noose that was in that garage had been in the garage previously,” said Phelps. “The last race we had had there in October, that noose was present, and it was the fact that it was not found until a member of the [Wallace’s team] came there is something that is a fact. We had not been back to the garage.”

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This whole matter brings up all sorts of questions. How long was it there without anyone saying anything about it? And, of course, who made the noose and placed it in the garage? How often are nooses used to hold open doors, anyway? And were there other doors with the same?

These questions and more needed to be asked and answered but Phelps was not taking any questions as of Tuesday evening.

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Phelps’ main concern was that someone had been attacking Wallace, a member of the family.

“That turned out not to be the case,” said Phelps. “As I said, this is a great conclusion for us and for Bubba, to understand that he was not targeted.”

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The fact of the matter is NASCAR, which now owns Talladega Speedway, has a race problem if a noose can be chillin’ in a garage for about eight months. To be fair, the racing giant only bought the track in May of last year, so perhaps sweeping the premises for racist symbols isn’t high on their list of priorities.

So, the good news is Wallace wasn’t the victim of a hate crime. The bad news? All Blacks were.

Been editing/writing sports for some time, mainly in NYC and a stint in LA.

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