A few weeks ago, NASCAR officially banned Confederate flags from their races. Confederate flags have long been a part of NASCAR, where they’re flown by various racing tracks, or fans, or even some of the racing cars. NASCAR’s announcement was met pretty positively, from what I saw, with only one notable exception of a salty redneck driver saying he was “quitting” because of the decision. While it was a great move for NASCAR and for their PR, I also thought that they would have a hell of a time changing “Confederate hearts and minds,” you know? People would still bring Confederate flags to the races. And NASCAR would still be a primarily racist, redneck, Confederate-flag-waving sport.
Still, NASCAR used their only black driver, Bubba Wallace, front and center for their new, woke branding. They gave Wallace a platform to speak about Black Lives Matter and why the Confederate flag has no place in NASCAR in 2020. And now it seems like *someone* is targeting Bubba Wallace:
A noose was found in the garage stall of Bubba Wallace at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama, on Sunday, less than two weeks after Wallace, who is NASCAR’s only black driver, successfully pushed the stock car racing series to ban the Confederate flag at its tracks and facilities.
“Late this afternoon, NASCAR was made aware that a noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team. We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act,” NASCAR said in a statement. “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 never saw the noose, ESPN’s Marty Smith reported. It was first seen by a member of Wallace’s team, who immediately brought it to the attention of NASCAR, Smith reported. NASCAR told Fox Sports that it will work with law enforcement on the incident.
Wallace, who drives the No. 43 Chevrolet for racing icon Richard Petty, said in a statement that he was “incredibly saddened” by the act.
“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 wrote on Twitter. “Over the last several weeks, I have been overwhelmed by the support from people across the NASCAR industry, including other drivers and team members in the garage. 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.”
If the noose was in his garage, it would suggest an inside job, right? I’m assuming that non-NASCAR-involved people wouldn’t have access to his garage to the extent where someone could hang a noose unnoticed? It would have to be someone in the NASCAR family, someone from another driver’s team, or someone in the NASCAR bureaucracy? Anyway, it’s f–king awful. I hope there’s a thorough investigation.
As for those hearts and minds… a plane flew over Talladega yesterday with a banner reading “Defund NASCAR” and a Confederate flag. These people are complete and total idiots.
— New York Post (@nypost) June 21, 2020
Photos courtesy of Getty.