Bubba Wallace (pictured) wasn’t the person who reported the garage door pull rope to NASCAR or the FBI, but has insisted that what was shown to him was a ‘straight up noose’
NASCAR has released a photo of the suspected ‘noose’ found in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega on Sunday that was initially investigated by the FBI as a possible hate crime before being revealed to be a garage door pull-down rope that had been in use for at least a year.
The picture shows a long rope fashioned into a loop, but with one end coiled around the knot, the image does have a striking resemblance to a noose.
On Monday, NASCAR and the FBI both launched investigations into the matter, which revealed that the rope was previously used in the same stall by a white driver, Paul Menard, in 2019. Footage from earlier years showed similar garage door pulls being used by other drivers, although none can be described, exactly, as a ‘noose.’
Circuit officials questioned representatives from every NASCAR track to learn exactly how many garage door pull-down ropes were tied in a similar manner. Of the 1,684 stalls across 29 tracks, only 11 had knotted pull-down ropes, and just one of those had been fashioned into a noose – the one in Wallace’s stall – according to NASCAR.com.
It is not clear who tied the rope that way or when that person did so. A Talladega Superspeedway spokesman did not return the Daily Mail’s requests for comment.
NASCAR has released a photo of the suspected ‘noose’ found in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega on Sunday that at was investigated by the FBI as a possible hate crime before being revealed to be an innocent garage door pull rope that had been in use for at least a year
Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega pictured after the suspected noose was cut down from the left side of the door opening. The 26-year-old Wallace was not the person who reported it
A Youtube video from 2019 showed a pull rope featuring a noose (circled) hanging from the garage door in the same stall used by Wallace and his team at Talladega earlier this week. At the time the video was taken, it was being used by a white driver, Paul Menard
NASCAR President Steve Phelps did release a statement Thursday to explain the decision to report the rope to the FBI as a ‘noose.’
‘Upon learning of and seeing the noose, our initial reaction was to protect our driver,’ Phelps said. ‘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 and that was of the 43 car of Bubba Wallace,’ Phelps said.
‘In hindsight, 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’ Phelps continued.
- June 9 – Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only black full-time driver on its top circuit, calls on the sport to permanently ban the Confederate flag
- June 10 – NASCAR bans the Confederate flag at all races after 70 years
- June 21 – Ahead of the scheduled start of the GEICO 500 in Alabama, a Confederate flag is flown over the Talladega track while a caravan of protestors drive rebel banners back and forth in front of the entrance
- June 21 – After the race is postponed by rain, someone from Wallace’s team discovers the suspected noose in his garage stall
- June 21 – NASCAR confirms the discovery of the ‘noose’
- June 22 – The FBI launches an investigation into the suspected hate crime
- June 22 – All 39 other NASCAR drivers rally in support of Wallace ahead of the GEICO 500 restart, collectively pushing his No. 43 car to the front of the grid in a show of solidarity
- June 23 – The FBI reveals that the suspected ‘noose’ is a garage door pull-down rope that had been in use for at least a year
- June 24 – Wallace praises the FBI for its investigation and says he is ‘relieved’ that he was not the target of a racist gesture
- June 25 – NASCAR releases a picture of the garage door pull, showing a long length of rope fashioned into a loop with one end coiled around the knot
- June 25 – NASCAR reveals that of the 1,684 garage stalls across its 29 tracks, only 11 had knotted pull-down ropes, and just one of those had been fashioned into a noose – the one in Wallace’s stall
‘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, who did not discover the noose and wasn’t the person who reported it to NASCAR or the FBI, faced criticism for the misunderstanding on Wednesday, but described himself as ‘relieved’ that it was not intended as a racist threat.
‘I think we’ll gladly take a little embarrassment over what the alternatives could have been,’ he said in a statement.
Wallace told NBC that he was actually suspicious the suspected noose was, in fact, a garage door pull-down rope, so he went looking for others to see if they were tied in a similar fashion.
‘When I did find out, I was adamant about searching all the other garages and making sure that this wasn’t a garage pull, and it ended up being one,’ he told NBC on Wednesday.
As for his mistaken belief that the rope was a racist message sent from an anonymous antagonist, Wallace defended himself Wednesday by telling CNN that a ‘straight-up noose’ was found in his garage.
‘The photo evidence that I’ve seen, that I have in my possession, of what was in our garage, is exactly a garage pull, it is, that is a noose,’ he said before NASCAR released the photograph. ‘I don’t know when we get to the point to release that image, but anybody sees it, it’s alerting and it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up for sure.’
He went on to say that he is ‘p****d’ with his critics who are using the incident to minimize accusations of racism within the sport.
Before the FBI halted its investigation, all 39 other NASCAR drivers rallied in support of Wallace at Monday’s restart, collectively pushing his No. 43 car to the front of the grid in a show of solidarity.
Wallace, an Alabama native, became overwhelmed with emotion and fought back tears as his car owner, NASCAR legend Richard Petty, gave him a hug in the moments before the race began.
By Tuesday, the FBI investigation found that the item – which is described in a NASCAR statement as a ‘garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose’ – had been there since 2019.
Wallace stressed that he remains thankful for the outpouring of support he received before Monday’s restart in Alabama from both his NASCAR rivals and his fans.
‘Make no mistake, though some will try, this should not detract from the show of unity we had on Monday, and the progress we’ve made as a sport to be a more welcoming environment for all.’
In this October 2017 shot, several similar ropes are seen being used in the Talladega garages
Videos from 2017 revealed that the garage door ropes at Talladega were often tied into loops
All 39 other NASCAR drivers rallied in support of Wallace before Monday’s restart, collectively pushing his No. 43 car to the front of the grid in a show of solidarity. Wallace, an Alabama native, became overwhelmed with emotion and fought back tears as his car owner, NASCAR legend Richard Petty, gave him a hug in the moments before the race began
In response to NASCAR’s ban, SCV had arranged for a small propeller plane to fly the Confederate Flag over the northern Alabama race track before Sunday’s scheduled race at Talladega while a caravan of cars (pictured) paraded the rebel banner in front of the entrance
Wallace and NASCAR were understandably inclined to believe the noose-like rope was a racist gesture because the 26-year-old had successfully pushed the circuit to ban the Confederate flag from events a week earlier.
As the only black full-time driver on NASCAR’s top circuit, Wallace faced increasing criticism among many of the sport’s southern fans.
One driver on NASCAR’s truck series, Ray Ciccarelli, vowed to retire at season’s end over the move due to his objections.
Paul C. Gramling Jr. (pictured), who is listed as the SCV ‘Commander in Chief,’ told the Columbia Daily Herald on Tuesday that his nearly 123-year-old organization was solely responsible for flying the ‘DEFUND NASCAR’ banner over Talladega in response to the ban
In response to NASCAR’s ban, a group called the Sons of Confederate Veterans arranged for a small propeller plane to fly the Confederate Flag over the northern Alabama race track before Sunday’s scheduled race while a caravan of cars paraded the rebel banner in front of Talladega’s main entrance.
Paul C. Gramling Jr., who is listed as the SCV ‘Commander in Chief,’ told the Columbia Daily Herald on Tuesday that his nearly 123-year-old organization arranged for the banner to be flown over Talladega in response to that ban.
‘NASCAR’s banning the display of the Confederate battle flag by its fans is nothing less than trampling upon Southerners’ First Amendment Right of free expression,’ Gramling Jr. said. ‘This un-American act shall not go unchallenged.
‘[On Sunday], members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ Confederate Air Force displayed its disapproval of NASCAR’s trampling upon the First Amendment Rights of Southerners.’
Through an attorney, the SCV did condemn what was briefly believed to be a racist attack against Wallace on Sunday.
‘The threat against Bubba Wallace is not only reprehensible, it is un-American,’ said attorney Edward Phillips.