A “noose” found in the garage of the only full-time African-American driver in NASCAR had been there since 2019 and was not planted as part of a hate crime, the FBI announced on Tuesday.
Bubba Wallace, the driver, was informed of the purported noose by NASCAR after a member of his pit crew found it and reported it to NASCAR officials as a possible hate crime. The piece of rope was found in Garage 4 at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, to which Wallace was assigned before NASCAR’s race there on Monday.
“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 noose found in garage number 4 was in that garage as early as October 2019.”
The FBI said no federal charges would be pursued, noting that “nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week.”
The incident came at a charged moment for NASCAR, which moved earlier this month to ban the waving of Confederate flags at races in the wake of the George Floyd protests. Wallace had been the public face of the push for the ban.
In a show of solidarity, drivers pushed Wallace’s car to the front of the starting queue of Monday’s race, while the FBI investigation into the purported noose was still underway.
We are one family.
One NASCAR. pic.twitter.com/Y1IRI5qpRe
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 22, 2020
“The drivers feel very strongly that they want to show their support of Bubba,” NASCAR president Steve Phelps said. “He’s a member of the NASCAR community. He’s a member of the NASCAR family.”