By on June 24, 2020

Over the weekend, NASCAR incurred what was assumed to be a racist incident after a member of outspoken Richard Petty Motorsports driver Bubba Wallace’s team claimed someone had hung a noose in Wallace’s garage. Earlier in the month, the diver released a new livery on his No. 43 Chevrolet promoting Black Lives Matter, saying he and his team stood in broad support of the organization. He also requested NASCAR ban the Confederate flag from all future events — getting his wish and causing a minor ruckus within the community.

The context helped frame the noose that appeared in his garage on Sunday as a racist action and drew massive support from every corner of the sport. Richard Petty came out to said he would stand with Wallace and practically everyone walked with him down Talladega’s pit lane in solidarity. NASCAR President Steve Phelps likewise expressed his backing for Wallace on Monday, saying whoever committed the hateful act would be barred from the sport for life.

This was followed by Northern District of Alabama U.S. Attorney Jay Town saying his office had launched an investigation along with the FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. The wheels of justice were put swiftly into motion, but it turned out that the noose was just a door pull someone had set up in 2019.  

On Tuesday, Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr. released a statement on the bureau’s investigation:

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.

NASCAR similarly released a statement, saying that photo evidence showed the “noose” was being used as a door pull for that particular garage since 2019. It thanked the FBI for its hard work (which it probably could have done on its own by looking at footage of old races) and closed by saying NASCAR would “remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing.”

One could argue that NASCAR’s handling of the situation allowed it get out of control. Banning the Confederate flag probably didn’t change much on the ground, but plenty of online noise erupted as many proclaimed they’d abandon the sport for its decision. Twitter also went into censor mode to eliminate both valid statements and blatantly racist comments stemming from the noose incident, kicking up more dust.

Meanwhile, Wallace went on CNN Tuesday night to tell Don Lemon he was “pissed” that his integrity was called into question. No shortage of people compared his situation with Jussie Smollett’s staged hate-crime assault from 2019, a wholly different incident. “I’m mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that I am and my integrity,” Wallace told Lemon. He maintains that what he saw in his garage was not a door pull.

“It was a noose,” Wallace continued. “Whether tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose. So, it wasn’t directed at me but somebody tied a noose. That’s what I’m saying.”

As reported by ESPN Wednesday:

According to NASCAR, every one of those pulldowns was checked as part of the FBI investigation, and the only one of those fashioned into a noose was the rope in garage No. 4, which was assigned to the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Chevy this past weekend.

Meanwhile, video shot at Talladega in October of 2017 shows similar loops utilized as door pulls in several bays — your author also had one on his garage door for years. But it’s difficult to tell the type of knot that was used to fashion the pit-lane loops, even if one that tightens upon pulling seems an unlikely choice. In Wallace’s defense, many certainly resemble a noose. No doubt the one found in his team’s bay did. In the end, it seems that this was simply a gigantic and very unfortunate misunderstanding with fallout that’s only beginning to be felt.

[Image: BubbaWallace/Twitter]

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66 Comments on “NASCAR Noose Scandal Ends Abruptly...”


  • avatar
    randyinrocklin

    Whoaaaaa…..

  • avatar
    ajla

    This episode has made me neither more nor less proud to be a NASCAR fan. Emotions have run high during the year, and this is just another thing that happened.

    Hindsight is 20/20 and although I do think some people got out over their skis in this situation I don’t believe there was any nefarious intent from NASCAR executives, the 43 team, Wallace, other teams/drivers, or the person that years ago originally tied the knot(s).

    I’m not going to read the follow up comments on this one though.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Looks like our 3-letter agencies have nothing to do while streets are rampant with crime.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    “Banning the Confederate flag probably didn’t change much on the ground, but plenty of online noise erupted as many proclaimed they’d abandon the sport for its decision.”

    Fans have been abandoning NASCAR in droves for some time now as it seems to have lost its direction and relevancy. I can’t imagine this would have much additional impact.

    Bubba shouldn’t be so concerned about his integrity being called into question, he should be more concerned about his mediocre to poor racing performance. He’s not helping his own cause and it wouldn’t surprise me if one car Petty starts looking for another driver to prop up his/its sagging fortunes.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Bubba is a journeyman level kinda driver and RPM is a low budget (by Nascar standards) operation. Medallion Financial is running it to make money rather than run up front. Typically those kind of teams and drivers go together.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    This is one of those instances where the simple explination is actually what happened. In 2019 someone tied the rope up to get it out of the way or make it easier to close. Fast Forward to 2020 and the lone African American driver randomly got that pit stall while sporting a BLM livery at a race in Alabama where some people were going out of their way to rock the Confederate flag.

    But the photo evidence does show it is all a coincidence…just one with terrible timing.

    Also no reason to thing Bubba Wallace was fanning these flames in any way. He wasn’t even told until after the race by all accounts…After all of the investigations were ordered already.

    file it all under $#!= happens I suppose. Easy to see why people got worked up given all that is going on. Good on everyone for getting to the bottom of it quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I agree, Art, I just want to add that the level of sensitivity to “symbolic gestures” is certainly heightened adding to the fervor, not unlike the “get Karen” videos dominating the internet. Everyone needs to calm the f*ck down

      • 0 avatar
        Old_WRX

        “Everyone needs to calm the f*ck down” True how true. Seems like a ton of people have gone off their meds.

      • 0 avatar
        IHateCars

        Sure, until someone like Dustin Skinner says: “…my hat is off to who put the noose at his car” the Sporting News reported. Skinner also wrote, “I wish they would of tied [the noose] to [Wallace] and drug him around the pits…”

    • 0 avatar
      Urlik

      Adjacent garages had the same loop tied at the end of the pull cord for a handle.

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      I gave bubba wallace the benefit of the doubt until the point he double downed on Don Lemon. Seriously. I mean Jesus, anyone with half a brain knew what it was. And he still had the balls to either imply it was racially motivated or dumb enough not to understand that “noose like” loops are used for all sorts of things and it shouldn’t be used for those things.

      I’m more disappointed with Nascar for being so matter of fact with their statement when it first happened.

      So a noose or a hangman’s knot can be used for all sorts of things. It’s all about implication and he’s still implying why it was put there. I bet in fact it wasn’t a true hangman’s knot but possibly another loop knot.

    • 0 avatar
      NigelShiftright

      Wallace wasn’t fanning the flames to begin with, but at this point in the story I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so teed off about NOT being the victim of a hate crime.

    • 0 avatar
      USAFMech

      You’re right, other than the fact that everything you typed is wrong.

      Those pull strings have been recorded and documented in videos at multiple race tracks going back at least 4 years.

      Liar, flame-fanner, and noose-hallucinator Bubba Watson went on MSNBC with Don Lemon to say, “I’ve been racing all of my life, we’ve raced out of hundreds of garages that never had garage pulls like that. … It’s a straight up noose.”

      The American Left’s demand for racism greatly exceeds supply. So they repeatedly make it up and then virtue-signal all over themselves.

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        If you can’t even get Don Lemon’s network right……

        • 0 avatar
          USAFMech

          You’re right and I mistyped.

          I still had a legacy opinion of CNN as a “news” network. In my mind, I didn’t connect the likes of Don Lemon with CNN. Details about these news networks and anchors rank in order, like they do for most Americans according to viewership, somewhere below streaming reruns of Golden Girls.

          When Don Lemon reaches the relative importance of a dead Bea Arthur, I will be more careful.

  • avatar
    RangerM

    “Meanwhile, video shot at Talladega in October of 2017 shows noose-type loops utilized as door pulls in several garage bays”

    Like at 3:00 for those who don’t want to watch that much footage. (right hand side of the video)

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    So everyone got their diapers in a bunch without knowing all the facts.

    Weird it’s like that happens all the time with stories like this (or ones involving the big bad police man). God forbid people wait until all the facts are know before spazzing.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      You are so right[wing]!

      The Floyd and Taylor families should look at the facts about those kind officers who relieved their loved ones of their lives. They probably owe those sweet officers thanks for their fine work.

      Putting (or tying) a noose anywhere is some pretty dumb sh!t. WHat is it about the conservative, proud-boy types around here that makes them unable to understand that?

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        Why is it hard for you to understand that it wasn’t a noose and that it had been there for years?

        This NASCAR non-story is a perfect allegory of the lefty libs in this country. They took a perfectly normal and mundane garage door pull and reported it’s a noose. This is what the lefty libs do. They look at normal things so hard to try and find racism and see something that isn’t there.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Better question: if YOU were black, would it be more likely for YOU to jump to conclusions if you saw a noose?

          Try walking in someone else’s shoes for a moment. You might find it enlightening.

          • 0 avatar
            Old_WRX

            @FreedMike,

            I’ve lived for decades now with the increasing bigotry against more than one demographic of who I am. What? You ask? White, male, middle class — all these are stigmas these days. And, that is the truth. I’m sick and tired of all this knee-jerk labeling and protecting one demographic and ignoring others.

            I’m not going to pick on anyone for who or what they are. I just ask that in return nobody pick on me for who or what I am. I am not going to ask anyone to apologize for who they are and I am not going to apologize for who I am.

            This door pull rope incident was not handled in a sane or, by any stretch of the imagination — short of outright psychosis, sensitive way. All these passive-aggressive ad hominem attacks are craven.

  • avatar
    Urlik

    A nonslip loop at the end of a pull cord is not a noose.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I have several bad takes with this whole situation.

    1. I knew it wasn’t as simple as someone hung a noose in the team’s garage to send a message. It’s just not possible to accomplish without someone noticing. My theory prior to today is irrelevant, but I never suspected Wallace as being in on it at any level.

    2. Nooses in and of themselves are not images of hate without proper context. In this case, if done specifically at his garage at the event, that’s context. Arbitrarily tying nooses because you know how to do it and because there’s some morbid entertainment from it is not that context.

    3. I like Bubba, he seems like a really good guy and I pull for him – despite his lack of success since moving up to the Cup series. He’s an underdog you can get behind regardless of his race. At times, his race does make for an even better story. Who wasn’t pulling for him on Monday?

    4. I like him, but I wish he’d done a better job of ignoring the nay-sayers and articulating how he recognized that the noose was not a threat directed at him and that no one in the garage area was actively trying to harm or otherwise threaten him. I know it’s really hard when you get negative comments, you read them louder than any level of support you get. It’s human nature. But he had the perfect platform to be able to calm things just a little and get focus directed back onto real issues.

    5. There are outliers on both sides of every issue but it does bother me that it seems to be ok to refer to Southerners as inbreeding or backwards or to generalize them all as rednecks and racists. Some went as far as to say the people in the area should be killed. I’m from New Hampshire originally so I don’t really have a dog in this fight. But it seems to me that if you want people to be more open to your way of thinking – insulting them, wishing them harm or death, and treating them in the way you are saying the people you are defending are being treated is not a way to get people on your side. Especially when it turns out your accusations were completely unfounded.

    I’m at the point where I’ve had to stop visiting several websites I used to enjoy because the rhetoric and hatred from both sides of every issue has gotten overwhelming.
    I am not looking forward to the upcoming election. I fear this country will be deeply scarred no matter the outcome.

    • 0 avatar
      A Scientist

      “I’m at the point where I’ve had to stop visiting several websites I used to enjoy because the rhetoric and hatred from both sides of every issue has gotten overwhelming.”

      Same. I migrated to TTAC a few years back from that-car-site-which-shall-not-be-named for this very reason. Unfortunately, in the last year or so I’m seeing the rhetoric and hatred cropping up here more and more as well :(

  • avatar
    redapple

    HUM

    Couple facts glossed over.
    Shame
    Cause they re kinda KEY.

    1- I d expect something called a noose to – maybe look like a noose. The loop about 12 inches across. The rope to be 1/2 ” or so thick.
    2- The rope loop is on ALL GARAGE DOORS.
    3- Loops have been there at least as far back as 2017.
    4- If I found something like that – before I call the cops- i think I would have called all the guys over and say hey look at this. I dont know – but thats me. The guys would have responded. Dude. I have one on my garage door too. Calm down. Its a door pull.

    The country is losing its mind. The media are turbo charging it.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Your last paragraph: +100,000!!!

      I wish all this would just STOP!! For ONE day!! For everybody just to CHILL!!

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        Yep. But the media won’t stop. They think hair lighting moments like this or COVID or sandstorms or (insert panic du jour) will get more of us to watch their trash.

        The best thing that could happen for all of us would be for cable tv satellites to stop working for a few weeks.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          I agree, half the problem is too many news outlets in search of too few stories and they start jumping on anything that will encourage outrage. Then 24 hours later it’s over and they’re onto the next transgression

          Repeat, rinse

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      Unfortunately, no one at NASCAR or anywhere else chose to have the guts to say “calm down, stop imagining things for the sake of creating outrage–it’s a door pull”. They knew anyone who disputed the official outrage/cancel position would catch the attention of the online torch/pitchfork crowd. So they kicked the can down the road, and it ended up with the FBI.

  • avatar
    redapple

    If I were Bubba. I dont think i would have gone on Don Lemon show last night and get all upset that people dont think he was truthful. He stoked it up a notch or 2.

    Just think of the good press he could have gotten by saying, ‘ I was wrong and I very happy i am.” ” This country needs healing and not more tearing apart.”

    I dont know- but thats just me.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    I agree. Bubba could have simply thanked Nascar and the FBI and went on his way.

  • avatar
    forward_look

    Just to be safe, I’m labeling all my garage pulls “NOT A NOOSE”.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    We’ve used napalm in the wrong places

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Has anyone seen a photo of this “ordinary door pull, nothing to see here”?

    Pardon my skepticism, but this also happens to be the same two weeks when four separate black men have all committed “suicide” by hanging in two separate US cities that just happened to have had anti-brutality demonstrations. These days I like incontrovertible proof along with my Official Version of Events.

    • 0 avatar
      forward_look

      Well, watch the video from 2017 referenced in the article above and you tell us if it’s a rope with a loop to pull the door down, or a noose.

    • 0 avatar
      Don Mynack

      The video is all over the place, it’s not hard to find. You are being ridiculous.

    • 0 avatar
      285exp

      Wallace’s people could have released a picture of the “noose”, but they haven’t. Probably because anyone who knows anything about knots would know that it wasn’t a hangman’s noose, but just a rope with a loop tied on the end. If there was a real hangman’s noose in his garage, there would be no innocent explanation, a hangman’s noose would be a lousy knot to use for a pull down because it would tighten around your hand when you pulled on it. A bowline is perfect for a pull down rope but lousy for a hanging rope because the intended victim could fall out of it and all the rest of the lynch mob would mock you unmercifully.

      I have a feeling that the 14 FBI agents probably aren’t engaged in a conspiracy to cover for some roving KKK lynch mob.

  • avatar

    What happening today in America is hysterical. Comedy show 24×7.

  • avatar
    NigelShiftright

    At least Matt reports correctly that it was -not- a noose.

    Over at J*l*p**k (“Automotive News As If Reported By Oberlin Sophomores”), the story is, I kid you not, that a noose sat around in the garage for TWO YEARS and those Ku Kluxers who run NASCAR did nothing about it.

  • avatar
    Funky D

    Bubba Wallace has been exposed for the Attention Ho he really is. And to think I used to cheer for this idiot.

    NASCAR has shown a remarkable ability to shrink over the last decade and this is just going to continue the trend. Perhaps Wallace needs to be shown the door before he Krapernicks what is left of the sport.

  • avatar
    Funky D

    Bubba Wallace has been exposed for the Attention Ho he really is. And to think I used to cheer for this idiot.

    NASCAR has shown a remarkable ability to shrink over the last decade and this is just going to continue the trend. Perhaps Wallace needs to be shown the door before he Krapernicks what is left of the sport.

  • avatar
    erlebo

    fake noose

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I am a skeptic and believe that Wallace was fully aware of the looped garage rope opener since it was there since last October. This to me appears to be a way for Bubba Wallace to get attention especially since he is the only Black driver and not one of the top drivers. At the very least he should have asked about why the loop was tied on the garage door rope and when he was told then not make a make an issue out of it.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    CNN reported that the noose has been there since 1966. George Wallace left it there in an attempt to intimidate Wendell Scott. (It didn’t work.)

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    It’s all a matter of perspective.

    If your perspective is “I’m white and never really experienced bigotry,” it makes sense that Wallace overreacted.

    But if you *have* experienced bigotry – and I have – it’s hard to understate just how viscerally you react to hate symbols, even if they’re innocent. Excellent example: a swastika. Its’ origin is NOT German, and it wasn’t even remotely dangerous or offensive; the Nazis made it so by adopting it. Even so, for someone who isn’t Jewish, I’d imagine it symbolizes an evil regime that threatened the world and needed to be defeated. After all, the Nazis weren’t “after” average white folks, so they could say, “distance” themselves from it, if you will.

    But if you’re Jewish, it’s something else entirely. That was a symbol of a group that thought it was perfectly OK to *round you and your family up, use you as slave laborers, and then gas you when they were through using you*…and would do it today if they could. So, if I saw a swastika in an ancient history museum, I’d go into pure fight/flight mode, because that symbol flew over the camps where it’s likely that *all of my ancestors were horrifically murdered.* It’s hard to react impartially to a symbol like that.

    Long story short…before we judge, maybe we should walk a couple of miles in each other’s shoes.

    • 0 avatar
      285exp

      I will not judge Wallace harshly on his initial reaction, but his continued public insistence that it was a racist attack, after it was proven not to be, is inexcusable. He could have just expressed his happiness that it was an understandable mistake, and given his appreciation for the outpouring of support by NASCAR, the fans, his car owner, and his fellow drivers, but he apparently enjoyed being a victim so much that he doubled down on it. Disgusting .

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    True but before you call the police and get the news media involved you should ask why the rope is tied with a loop and how long it has been that way. Are we going to become so sensitive that we take offense at everything? Will it become to where you cannot tie a loop or a knot because it will offend someone? A loop on a rope that opens and closes a garage door is a far cry from displaying the Confederate flag, a Swastika, burning a cross, putting a knee on someone’s neck or throat. Injustices need to be dealt with and corrected but let’s not go to the extreme of looking for offense in everything we see and hear. Will I be harassed or cited for tying a knot on my garage door or even just tying my shoes? How far are we going to carry this? If the rope were just hanging on a beam with a hangman’s noose then yes that is most likely intentional and should be taken as offensive. Do we take offense at someone saying “Good Morning”? Maybe it is easier not to speak to anyone and to just not go out and not be around people because they might take offense at anything you say or do. Might be a good idea to stay away from people because of COVID-19 but if some is going to take offense at everything then it might be easier to become a hermit.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      It IS a matter of sensitivity, Jeff, but not the way you’re thinking of. The problem isn’t that Bubba Wallace was oversensitive to seeing a noose – it’s that there’s a perfectly human REASON he’s oversensitive to seeing a noose, just as there’s a perfectly human REASON I overreacted to seeing an Asian swastika from the year 1600 at a history museum. If there was some perfectly innocent symbol that represented a history of violence against YOUR family, and people were still around looking for a repeat of that, I wager you’d overreact to seeing it too. That’s just human nature.

      We need to understand that and try to empathize with it before we judge. If we can, then I bet that a lot of the so-called “racial strife” happening now would disappear.

      • 0 avatar
        Urlik

        Understandable reason is not the same as a logical reason. A logical person would first think, that makes sense that the rope has a loop for a hand hold to pull the door down. Now that I look at it, it isn’t a slip knot either so it’s not a noose.

      • 0 avatar
        Old_WRX

        “We need to understand that and try to empathize with it before we judge. If we can, then I bet that a lot of the so-called “racial strife” happening now would disappear.”

        Agreed, 100%. We need to learn to understand, as best we can, each other. We also need to understand that: a) these problems will not disappear over night; b) so called reverse racism is racism; c) we are different — and this is good and something to celebrate; d) I am not “better” than you and you are not “better” than me; e) people are entitled to their tastes/biases as long as they don’t take them out on other people or try to force other people to agree with them.

        “…one day on the red hills of Georgia…” That’s my feeling about all this.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    FreedMike–Why not ask why the rope is tied instead of untied. True I am not Black but I am going to ask first instead of assuming that there are bad intentions directed at me. My opinion and I could be entirely incorrect but this was for publicity a way for Wallace to get attention. It shouldn’t matter what race, color, sexual preference or religious preference if you are the best at what you do you will get attention. If you work at being the best and eventually become the best it will not matter you will get the attention and respect of your peers and the public.

    Another thing to remember if you eliminate a symbol and try to rewrite History you risk that future generations do not know what happen. That Asian swastika was not originally a symbol of a despot and was not meant as a hate symbol but because Hitler used it as the symbol of the Nazis it became bad. Why do you think the Holocaust Museum displays a swastika along with a history of the Holocaust? Do you think they like that symbol? If you cannot see that a swastika along with anything related to Hitler and the Nazis is because they don’t want the World and future generations to forget the horror of what happen. Maybe take some of those Confederate flags and other symbols of the Confederacy and display them in a museum with a history of slavery and what happened so that History is not repeated.

    Agree with Urlik that a logical person would first think that the rope has a loop to pull the door down and that it isn’t a slip knot nor a noose. Let’s not read something more into than what it is which is a loop to put your hand into to pull a garage door down instead of having rope burns on your hand. I have done this same thing myself in my own garage so based on your opinion I shouldn’t do this and I am doing this intentionally and therefore I am a racist.

    I disagree with you but you have a right to your opinion and I have a right to my own and it is just as wrong to make a quick judgement based on little or no information.

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