"So it wasn't directed at me but somebody tied a noose," said the driver, after the FBI determined there was no hate crime committed

By Benjamin VanHoose
June 24, 2020 09:29 AM
Advertisement

Bubba Wallace is skeptical about FBI findings that the object discovered in his garage stall was an ordinary pull rope.

On Tuesday, an investigation into an apparent noose found in the NASCAR driver's garage stall at the Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama, over the weekend concluded that the object was a garage door pull rope that may have been there since October.

"The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime," NASCAR said in a statement on Tuesday. "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."

Speaking with CNN host Don Lemon on Tuesday night, Wallace — the only Black full-time NASCAR driver — said, from what he was shown of the object, "what was hanging in my garage is not a garage pull."

"It was a noose. Whether tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose," he said. "So it wasn't directed at me but somebody tied a noose. That's what I'm saying."

Bubba Wallace
| Credit: Slaven Vlasic/Getty

Responding to claims that the situation was a hoax, Wallace explained that he didn't report the noose, but that the incident was brought to his attention.

"This will not break me, none of the allegations of being a hoax will break me or tear me down," he said. "... It will piss me off, absolutely. But that only fuels the competitive drive in me to shut everybody up."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories

Chatting with the Today show's Craig Melvin on Wednesday morning, Wallace said he was "relieved, just like many others, to know that it wasn’t targeted toward me."

"It's still frustrating to know people are always going to test you and always just gonna try to debunk you," he added. "That's what I'm trying to wrap my head around now, from, you know, saying I'm a fake and all this stuff and that I reported it when it was news that was brought to me ... so I was just kind of following suit. All in all, it's just another day."

He continued, “It was a rope pull for the garage door ... but it was definitely in the shape of a noose. It wasn’t a functioning noose... The photo evidence that I’ve seen and that I have in my possession [shows] of what was in our garage is exactly a garage pull. It is. That is a noose. I don’t know when we’ll get to the point to release that image … It’s alerting and it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.”

In its statement, NASCAR said: "We appreciate the FBI's quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing."

Richard Petty Motorsports also issued a statement, saying no member of the team nor Wallace "had any involvement with the presence of the rope."

RELATED VIDEO: NASCAR's Bubba Wallace to Race in ‘Black Lives Matter’ Car After Asking for Confederate Flag Ban

"After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed," said the FBI and U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town in a joint statement on Tuesday, saying that 15 special agents conducted interviews on Monday.

On Sunday, Wallace — who did not see the noose but was told about it by a team member — addressed the incident on Twitter, saying it left him "incredibly saddened" and "serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism."

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond