NASCAR said late Sunday that a noose had been found in the garage stall of Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr.'s, the first full-time African American top-tier driver since 1971, at Alabama's Talladega Superspeedway. "We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act," NASCAR said in a statement.
NASCAR, which banned the Confederate flag from its races earlier this month, said it has "launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport. 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." Wallace issued his own statement, deploring the "despicable act" but saying it "will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down. I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in."
NASCAR told CNN the garage area is open only to essential personnel, including race teams, security and safety personnel, and NASCAR officials. NASCAR President Steve Phelps has previously estimated that due to COVID-19 restrictions, about 900 people are allowed down in the track area, from up to 2,500 before the pandemic, USA Today adds. Sunday's race in Talladega was postponed until Monday due to weather, but Confederate flags waved outside the speedway on Sunday and one with "Defund NASCAR" was seen flying over the track at the back of an airplane.