I never would have predicted that I would spend this much time writing about NASCAR, but again, here we are. NASCAR, as an organization, has actually impressed me a lot in the past month. They listened to Black Lives Matter activists and correctly judged the national mood. They banned Confederate flags outright at all of their races. They happily gave a platform to the one Black driver in the NASCAR organization, Bubba Wallace, and allowed him speak about BLM completely under the NASCAR banner. They stood by Wallace when salty rednecks protested, even when those salty rednecks were part of NASCAR.
Then, last weekend, Wallace’s team found a noose in their Talladega garade. The team informed NASCAR, and NASCAR called in the FBI to investigate it as a possible hate crime. The FBI investigated for a few days and came to the conclusion that while it was a noose, it was not targeting Bubba Wallace, and the noose had been there since last year, so it wasn’t really a hate crime. The racists – yeah, I said it – screamed for several days about how Bubba Wallace should apologize to all white people for “crying racism” or something. I honestly didn’t follow the racists’ train of thought, nevermind the fact that it wasn’t Bubba Wallace who even got any of this started – it was his crew, and it was NASCAR trying to genuinely protect Wallace. Anyway, after all the salty rednecks screamed at Bubba Wallace because “the FBI said he lied” (the FBI did not say that), ESPN published a photo of the noose in question. Guess what? It was a f–king noose.
NASCAR releases photo to the media of the garage pull rope formed as a noose from the Bubba Wallace garage Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.
This image was provide by NASCAR. pic.twitter.com/Z4ZyBzpREF
— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) June 25, 2020
Now those same racists are arguing that yes, it’s a noose, but hey, that’s just how *some of us* tie a garage door pull. The FBI and NASCAR actually examined many of the other garages and door pulls and it’s super-weird that this was the ONLY garage which had a noose in it. And it’s super-weird that it was assigned to Bubba Wallace, huh?
NASCAR on Thursday completed its investigation into the garage pull rope formed as a noose that was found in Bubba Wallace’s garage at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, with president Steve Phelps saying “the noose was real” and “our initial reaction was to protect our driver.”
“Given the facts presented to us, we would have pursued this with the same sense of urgency and purpose,” Phelps said Thursday. “Upon learning of seeing the noose, our initial reaction was to protect our driver. We’re living in a highly charged and emotional time. What we saw was a symbol of hate, and was only present in one area of the garage — that of the 43 car of Bubba Wallace.
“In hindsight, we should have — I should have — used the word ‘alleged’ in our statement. … As you can see from the photo, the noose was real, as was our concern for Bubba. With similar emotion, others across our industry and our media stood up to defend the NASCAR family — our NASCAR family — because they are part of the NASCAR family too. We were proud to see so many stand up for what’s right.”
Wallace, NASCAR’s only Black full-time driver, on Wednesday told ESPN’s First Take that he was thankful that the noose wasn’t intended for him, but he doesn’t think the ensuing investigation was an overreaction. Phelps said NASCAR conducted a thorough sweep of every garage area in all 29 tracks at which it races, a total of 1,684 garage stalls.
“We found only 11 total that had a pull-down rope tied in a knot, and only one noose — the one discovered on Sunday in Bubba Wallace’s garage,” Phelps said.
Phelps said NASCAR determined that the noose wasn’t in the garage prior to the October 2019 race weekend, but it was unable to determine “with any certainty who tied this rope in this manner, or why it was done. “… Our ultimate conclusion for this investigation is to ensure that this never happens again — that no one walks by a noose without recognizing the potential damage it can do,” Phelps said.
Again, I actually and truly believe that NASCAR, as an organization, is trying to do the right thing and they have been trying all month. While I find it extremely odd that Wallace was assigned this garage, I also feel like there’s reason to doubt the FBI’s findings too. And you know what? Good for NASCAR for releasing the photo of the noose. It IS a f–king noose.
Here's a wild thought, maybe instead counting the number of knots and calculating 2πr we should use common sense to realize that anything that looks like a noose in the vicinity of a black man is 100% worth reporting and people who disagree might not be arbiters of race relations
— sreekar (@sreekyshooter) June 25, 2020
NASCAR President Steve Phelps said he was unsure whether it was a functioning noose. He said NASCAR members will get sensitivity training — he wouldn't speculate why no one was alarmed by it or didn't report it.
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) June 25, 2020
"Thats way too small to be a functioning noose" is a WILD hill to die on.
— Rocket Doctor (@TreJames_) June 25, 2020
Photos courtesy of Getty, Instagram.