NASCAR drivers and crew are standing with Black driver Bubba Wallace after a noose was found hanging in his garage stall
No one who’s paying attention to the world right now can possibly believe that racism doesn’t still exist in force in America. And as protests against racism and police brutality continue across the country, NASCAR, a sport with undeniably Southern roots, is having a racial reckoning of its own. Leading the charge is Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in NASCAR’s highest level of racing.
Just a day after Wallace discovered a noose hanging in his garage stall, drivers and crew members rallied around him at Alabama’s Talladega’s Superspeedway and pushed his car to the front of the field to start the race. The powerful moment was shared in video clips across social media.
Someone had also stenciled, “#IStandWithBubba” on the grass in the infield.
The Department of Justice announced on Monday that its Civil Rights Division has launched a federal investigation into the noose found hanging in the #43 garage stall. The incident happened after Wallace called for banning Confederate flags from Nascar events, and Nascar responded by putting the ban in place. At Talladega this week, protestors have gathered outside the speedway with Confederate flags, and a plane has circled overhead with a banner reading “Defund NASCAR.”
Wallace responded to all of the controversy on his twitter Sunday night, writing, “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.”
Wallace has also had support from NASCAR officials, who said in a statement, “We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act. 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.”
In light of everything, Talladega has stepped up its security for this week, as some of the first crowd-attended Nascar races since the start of the coronavirus pandemic are taking place.
“We want to make sure that Bubba is safe,” NASCAR President Steve Phelps told ABC News. “We will firmly support as an industry, as a family and community, to make sure Bubba and everyone else in this sport is safe.”