The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) has concluded its investigation into the case of a noose found in the garage of the only African-American NASCAR driver, Bubba Wallace. It found that the noose had been present there since last October and it was by pure chance that Wallace’s car was assigned to that particular stall.
As a result, federal authorities announced that no charges would be laid in the incident that shook NASCAR and the entire sports world two days ago. What certainly comes as a relief to many also serves to highlight the racial tensions roiling the United states right now.
U.S. Attorney Jay Town and FBI Special Agent Johnnie Sharp Jr. said their investigation determined that “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.”
A member of the Richard Petty Motorsports team discovered the noose on Sunday at the Talladega Circuit in Talladega, Alabama. NASCAR was alerted and contacted the FBI, which sent 15 agents to the scene to investigate. They have determined that no federal crime had been committed.
According to FBI statement, the garage was assigned to Wallace last week prior to the race scheduled for Sunday, but held on Monday after being postponed due to rain. A video confirmed by NASCAR to be authentic showed that the rope "was in that garage as early as October 2019.
Wallace pushed to have the Confederate flag from NASCAR race sites; a ban came into effect less than two weeks ago. The ban has been criticized by some long-time fans of the series and security has been tightened around Wallace, a 26-year-old Alabama native. That is why the discovery of the rope was seen as a gesture made by someone opposed to the positions taken by Bubba Wallace.
NASCAR said in a statement that “the FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall. This was obviously well before the 43 team’s arrival and garage assignment.”
A member of the Wood Brothers Racing team reported that he recalled “seeing a tied handle in the garage pull down rope from last fall,” at the NASCAR race in Talladega last October. The team said they immediately alerted NASCAR, which helped in the investigation.
Clearly there some jumping to conclusions in this case, but just as clearly, the NASCAR community's reaction in support of Bubba Wallace is to be applauded.