NASCAR, investigators confirm: 'Noose' was actually handle for garage door
An outpouring of support followed the alleged incident.
A noose reportedly left inside a garage bay at Talladega Speedway as an alleged act of racist intimidation against Bubba Wallace, NASCAR's only black full-time driver, was actually a simple pulley attached to the garage's door, NASCAR and federal officials confirmed this week.
The professional racing world was rocked last week when NASCAR announced that a noose — historically a symbol for brutal, racially motivated, extra-judicial lynchings of black Americans — was found inside the garage of Wallace, a driver for Richard Petty Motorsports.
But today NASCAR said in a statement that investigations had proven that a "garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned [in that garage] since as early as last fall."
"This was obviously well before [Wallace's] team’s arrival and garage assignment," the statement continued. "We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba."
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Alabama said in a separate statement that its investigation "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."
Noting that Wallace was assigned that garage just last week, investigators stated that "nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week."
Incident followed Confederate flag ban
The now-disproven racist incident followed a minor controversy earlier this month when NASCAR announced, amid ongoing nationwide anti-racist protests, that it would ban the display of the Confederate battle flag at its events. That flag has long been a mainstay at NASCAR races, including on racing merchandise and clothing.
Several days after that ban was declared, NASCAR announced the discovery of the noose in Wallace's stall. The association declared itself "angry and outraged" over the incident.
The controversy served to further enflame already-high racial tensions throughout the country. On Monday, a phalanx of NASCAR drivers walked Wallace's car to the starting grid before that day's race in what observers called a powerful rebuke of the alleged racist attack. The hashtag #IStandWithBubba, meanwhile, trended on social media and was painted on the NASCAR racing field.
But on Tuesday morning, a newly surfaced video made the rounds on social media showing that the alleged noose had actually been nothing more than a garage door pulley, one that was at the time apparently present on numerous NASCAR garages.
The video in question was uploaded to YouTube in November 2019. The video's uploader, "Rowdy Maglite," appears to be a dedicated NASCAR fan; the majority of his videos are evidently racing-related.
The footage depicts numerous garage bays at the Talladega Speedway, where the alleged noose incident occurred last week. About fifty seconds into the video, a "noose" is clearly visible in the doorway of garage #4, appearing to be a pull-handle for the garage's bay door.
#4 is the same garage in which Wallace was parked over the weekend. Media images of that garage taken on Monday showed that the "noose" that was present in November had disappeared, possibly having been cut off.
Wallace never actually saw the noose
Though the alleged noose was discovered on Sunday, no photos of it were released prior to the announcements on Tuesday.
Wallace himself reportedly never saw the noose, according to ESPN; a member of his racing team discovered the object and reported it to NASCAR authorities.