NASCAR recently made an important change in their policy: in the wake of the George Floyd protests, the racing organization officially banned the confederate flag from all of its racetracks. And instead of like the NFL with Colin Kaepernick’s displays of protest, NASCAR also supported Bubba Wallace—the only Black NASCAR driver—when he decorated his car with a Black Lives Matter paint scheme.
So it was despicable when later, in a clear act of hate and possible retaliation against NASCAR’s new rule, a noose was found in Wallace’s garage at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday. But the racing community made a strong stance against the violent act and rallied around Wallace—walking with Wallace’s No. 43 car and escorting him to the front of the pack on Monday.
“The pre-race deal was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to witness in my life from all the supporters from drivers from crew members, from everybody here, the badass fan base, thank you guys for coming out here,” Wallace said. “This is truly incredible and I’m proud to be a part of this sport.”
Wallace shared a moving photo on social media of the supportive crowd behind him with a simple caption: “Together.”
Other NASCAR drivers showed their solidarity with Wallace by sharing their stories of friendship on Twitter and cheering him on, including legend Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“He and I would be great friends even if we weren’t racing together,” said Talladega winner Ryan Blaney.
82-year-old NASCAR star Richard Petty, who decided to attend his first race since the COVID-19 shutdown, cheered on his driver (Wallace drives for Petty’s racing team).
Though Wallace didn’t win, he had his best finish at Talladega and said he considered the day a win.
The Department of Justice said that they are looking into the noose.
“The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Alabama, FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division are reviewing the situation surrounding the noose that was found in Bubba Wallace’s garage to determine whether there are violations of federal law,” US Attorney Jay E. Town said in statement.”Regardless of whether federal charges can be brought, this type of action has no place in our society.”