Updated: June 23, 2020 - 4:57 p.m.
NASCAR announced on Tuesday that following an FBI investigation, Bubba Wallace was not the victim of a hate crime. According to the investigation, it was a pull rope, tied like a noose, and had been in place since 2019, before Wallace's garage assignment at Talladega.
NASCAR says someone put a noose in Bubba Wallace’s Talladega garage stall on Sunday.
NASCAR condemned the “heinous act” in a statement released on Twitter.
Wallace is the sport’s only Black driver and drew attention to racial inequality protests two weeks ago after he sported a Black Lives Matter car.
ESPN reports that Wallace never saw the noose himself. It was spotted by one of his crew members.
Late Sunday he tweeted a statement of his own, saying he was “saddened” by the “despicable act of racism.”
Sunday’s race at Talladega was postponed to Monday due to weather. After the noose was found in Wallace’s garage stall, some of racing’s most prominent figures voiced their support for him, including Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
RELATED: NASCAR bans confederate flag displays at all races, properties
NASCAR is acting on a June 1 promise to “help bridge the racial divide that continues to exist in our country.”
On Wednesday, NASCAR announced that the confederate flag would be prohibited at all NASCAR events and properties.
In a statement NASCAR tweeted, they said, “The presence of the confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry. Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”
In 2015, NASCAR tracks asked fans not to bring confederate flags, but fell short of a ban. Fans reportedly didn’t listen and kept bringing the flags to races.
Some drivers have also taken it upon themselves to take the messaging further.
Bubba Wallace unveiled a Black Lives Matter car he will race at Martinsville Speedway on Wednesday night.
He also wore a t-shirt that said “I Can’t Breathe” during a pre-race moment of silence for George Floyd on Sunday in Atlanta.
On June 1, NASCAR tweeted this statement regarding racial inequality across the United States
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While all major sports are on hiatus, NASCAR has embraced iRacing, a high-end simulation racing video game, to get their drivers in virtual cars on a virtual track.
While it may sound like any other esport, iRacing features some high-tech features so that drivers feel like they're actually behind the wheel of a real car. That goes double for drivers who set up fancy racing wheel rigs. Just look at Denny Hamlin's set up:
Sunday marked the first race in eNASCAR's iRacing Pro Invitational Series, and it featured 35 drivers all competing from the comfort of their own living room, garage or man cave. The usual NASCAR announcers, Jeff Gordon and Mike Joy, even called the race from the Fox Sports studio (while practicing social distancing of course) and brought some production value and normalcy to the event.
When the time came to wave the green flag and get things going, it was easy to forget this was a virtual race. The graphics were sharp, the commentary was engaging and the competition was fierce. In the end, Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. even traded some paint (or maybe pixels?) while fighing to the finish line.
Locally, former Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long got into it.