NASCAR has launched an immediate investigation after a noose was found in Bubba Wallace’s Richard Petty Motorsports garage at Talladega on Sunday.
Wallace, the Cup Series’ only current black driver, has been a prominent activist amid the recent Black Lives Matter protests, with NASCAR fully supporting his stance and taking its own steps to underline that racism has no place in its championships.
It released a statement on Sunday night expressing its outrage at what took place at Talladega, where rain has delayed the Cup race to Monday, and making clear the perpetrator would be expelled from NASCAR.
“Late this afternoon, NASCAR was made aware that a noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team,” said a series statement.
“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.”
Access to the paddock area is currently limited amid Covid-19 precautions.
Wallace said he was “incredibly saddened” by the incident but promised that it would “not break” him.
“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,” he wrote on social media.
“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.”
NASCAR has taken a number of steps against racism in recent weeks, including banning the Confederate flag from its events, adjusting its rules to allow gestures of protest during the national anthem, and issuing strong statements from leading drivers, teams and series president Steve Phelps.
Wallace and the Petty team ran with a Black Lives Matter livery on their car for the recent Martinsville race.
I am shocked and appalled to hear of yesterday’s vile act against @BubbaWallace in Talladega – there is no place for this disgusting display of hatred in our state. Full statement: https://t.co/wmwVCOFd4B pic.twitter.com/mcFXKUynRs
— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) June 22, 2020
The Alabama Governor Kay Ivey also released a statement on Monday afternoon condemning the incident and committing to helping NASCAR find the person responsible.