Late Sunday night, NASCAR revealed that a noose was found in the garage of Bubba Wallace at Talladega Superspeedway.
Wallace, the only full time African-American driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, has been fighting racial inequality within the sport alongside the Black Lives Matter movement that is still ongoing worldwide.
It was Wallace who campaigned to get the confederate flag banned from all NASCAR events, which was successfully put in place, and that ban clearly faced its biggest test this weekend in Alabama, the heart of the south.
Before the race was supposed to get under way on Sunday, a small plane was flown over the racetrack with a banner displaying the Confederate flag and the phrase “defund NASCAR”, claimed by a man named Paul C. Gramling Jr.
Along with this, trucks lined the roads outside of the track waving the Confederate flag, and merchandise tents were also waving and selling it.
NASCAR have taken this incredibly seriously, and have launched a full investigation of the disgusting act, working alongside the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to find the culprit.
“We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how serious we take this heinous act.” read an official statement made by NASCAR.
“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.”
Wallace also released a statement on twitter, confidently saying that this will not stop him from standing up for what he believes in.
With presence in the garage area strictly limited to only crew members and NASCAR officials, it is believed that it was someone within the sport that placed the noose in the Richard Petty Motorsports #43 team’s garage. No suspects have been identified as of Monday.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps said in a teleconference Monday afternoon that the perpetrator will be punished accordingly by the sport.
“Unequivocally, they will be banned for life.” Phelps said.
“They won’t be here. I don’t care who they are, they will not be here.”
It is reported that several NASCAR drivers are planning to do a pre-race show of support alongside Wallace before the race gets underway Monday. The #43 car will be pushed to the front of the grid, and everyone will stand around it for the national anthem.
Talladega Superspeedway has also painted #IStandWithBubba on the infield grass ahead of the race.
Richard Petty added that he will be attending the race to stand in solidarity with Wallace, the first race that the 82 year old icon has attended since the COVID-19 pandemic stoppage. Sources told ESPN’s Marty Smith that Petty commented: “The most important thing for me right now is hugging my driver.”