FBI Concludes Bubba Wallace Not Target Of Hate Crime At Talladega Superspeedwayby Hunter Thomas June 23, 2020 0 comments
TALLADEGA, Ala. – On Tuesday, the FBI concluded that Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. was not a target of a hate crime and that the noose found in his team’s garage stall was a misunderstanding.
A member of the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 team reported to NASCAR on Sunday that a noose had been found in the team’s garage stall, which housed Bubba Wallace’s race car.
NASCAR addressed the situation on Sunday night by sending out a statement and talking with Wallace, who wasn’t in the garage stall at the time of the noose’s discovery. On Monday morning, 15 FBI special agents began investigating the situation.
Prior to the start of Monday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, #IStandWithBubba was added to the frontstretch grass, and NASCAR drivers and their teams showed their support for Wallace by walking down pit road and standing by his side during pre-race. Wallace finished 14th in the race.
After completing their investigation, the FBI concluded that the noose was actually the rope connected to the door that opens and closes the garage stall. The rope was tied in a noose-like design and it had been there since at least October 2019.
Joint Statement from U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr. Regarding the Noose Found in NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace’s Garage at Talladega Superspeedway
“On Monday, fifteen FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway. After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed.
The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week. The investigation also revealed evidence, including authentic video confirmed by NASCAR, that the noose found in garage number 4 was in that garage as early as October 2019. Although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week.
The decision not to pursue federal charges is proper after reviewing all available facts and all applicable federal laws. We offer our thanks to NASCAR, Mr. Wallace, and everyone who cooperated with this investigation.”
Statement from NASCAR President Steve Phelps
“First of all, I’d like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s office and the FBI for their obviously very swift and thorough work. As their statement has said, they’ve concluded their investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime.
For us at NASCAR, this is the best result we could hope for. It was disturbing to hear that it was thought that one of our own had committed this heinous act. It is fantastic to hear from the FBI definitively that there was not a hate crime.
I do want to make sure everyone understands that if given the evidence that we had was delivered to us on Saturday night or late Saturday afternoon, we would do the same thing. We would have done the same investigation. It was important for us to do. There is no place in our sport for this type of racism or hatred. It’s not part of who we are as a sport.
I want to make sure that everyone understands that our portion of this with the FBI was something that was ‑‑ we were very cooperative, as you would expect. We provided them with roster information, photographic and video evidence that aided them in their conclusions.
Additionally, the industry was very supportive. Not just the members of the 43, and I want to be clear about the 43 team. The 43 team had nothing to do with this. The evidence is very clear that the noose that was in that garage had been in the garage previously. The last race we had had there in October, that noose was present, and it was ‑‑ the fact that it was not found until a member of the 43 team came there is something that is a fact. We had not been back to the garage. It was a quick one‑day show. The crew member went back in there. He looked and saw the noose, brought it to the attention of his crew chief, who then went to the NASCAR series director Jay Fabian, and we launched this investigation.
To be clear, we would do this again. Of the evidence that we had, it was clear that we needed to look into this.
So again, I want to thank the FBI for that.
I also want to talk about yesterday. Yesterday to me as a sport was one of the most important days we’ve had. It’s one of the most kind of indelible print on my mind until the day I die, seeing the support that Bubba had from not just the drivers but all the crews, all the officials who were down in pit road, anyone who was part of that footprint. Everyone wanted to show their support for a family member of NASCAR. We are one big family. We are one large community. And everyone’s belief is that someone was attacking a member of our family.
It turned out that that was not the case, but at the time that’s what our industry thought, so drivers, crew, our officials, everyone supported Bubba Wallace and the 43 team, and that was a very powerful image in not just the history of our sport but I think in all sports.
With that, as Eric said, we are continuing our portion of the investigation to try to determine why there was a rope fashioned into a noose, which obviously happened sometime last October or before, and we’ll do that. And when we have further information, we will get back to the media, and at that time I’ll be happy to answer any questions.
I appreciate everyone’s time. As I said, this is a great conclusion for us and for Bubba, to understand that he was not targeted.
Just one correction to make. Obviously I had said Saturday night, it was actually Sunday night. When you race on Monday and you usually race on Sundays, I had my days mixed up. So to be clear, this came to our attention on Sunday night, not on Saturday night.”
Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images