Bubba Wallace — the only Black driver in NASCAR’s Cup Series — has spoken out after a noose was found in his team’s garage stall at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
“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,” the 26-year-old began his statement, posted on social media on Sunday.
“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,” Wallace continued. “I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in.”
Earlier that day, NASCAR confirmed the noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team — whose car is driven by Wallace.
“We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act,” NASCAR said in a statement. “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."
The auto racing organization — which told CNN that the garage area is restricted to essential personnel, including race teams, NASCAR officials, and security and health and safety personnel — launched an “immediate investigation” into the matter and vowed to "do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport."
Prior to the noose’s discovery, the Confederate flag – along with the message, “Defund NASCAR” – was flown over the Alabama track.
This appears to be in protest to NASCAR’s decision earlier this month to ban the display of the Confederate flag at all of its events and properties – which Wallace had previously pushed for in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
On Monday, the Department of Justice announced its Civil Rights Division is investigating the incident "to determine whether there are violations of federal law.”
"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," U.S. 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,” Town added.
That day, fellow NASCAR drivers, including Joey Logano and Tyler Reddick, posted messages of support for Wallace, with the hashtag #IStandWithBubba.
NASCAR also painted "#IStandWithBubba" on the infield at Talladega Superspeedway ahead of the GEICO 500 on Monday afternoon.