The FBI concluded that NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace “was not the target” of a hate crime, pointing to photographic evidence that the noose found in his garage stall was a garage door pull and had been there “as early as last fall.”
Wallace, the league’s only full-time Black driver, found a noose hanging in his stall on Sunday before The Geico 500, which ended up getting delayed to Monday due to inclement weather. NASCAR strongly condemned the action shortly after and launched an immediate investigation with help from the state of Alabama and the FBI.
“The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime,” NASCAR said in a statement. “The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall. This was obviously well before the 43 team’s arrival and garage assignment. We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing.”
On Monday, NASCAR president Steve Phelps said he would permanently ban whoever was responsible and believed it to be from someone connected to NASCAR or the Talladega track.
In their own joint statement, Alabama District Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI special agent in charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr. said the following:
“On Monday, fifteen FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway. After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed.
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.”
Earlier this month, Wallace called for NASCAR to ban the confederate flag at its events. The league complied with that request.