NASCAR Releases Photo of Noose, Says Only Rope Tied as Such Across 29 Tracks
NASCAR released the first official image of the rope that was the subject of controversy after it was found in Bubba Wallace's garage
Some readers may find the image in this story disturbing. PEOPLE editors have decided that the photo is central to the understanding of the story.
NASCAR has released the first image of the noose found in Bubba Wallace's garage a day after the FBI determined that no federal hate crime was committed.
The noose was reported to NASCAR on Sunday afternoon as Wallace prepared to race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. Wallace is the first full-time Black driver to race in the Cup Series in nearly 50 years and recently has made headlines for his successful campaign to encourage NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag from events.
On Wednesday, the FBI announced that the noose was a garage door pull rope that had been in the location since at least October 2019.
"Given the facts presented to us, we would have pursued this with the same sense of urgency and purpose," NASCAR President Steve Phelps said in a statement on Thursday.
"Upon learning of seeing the noose, our initial reaction was to protect our driver. We're living in a highly-charged and emotional time. What we saw was a symbol of hate, and was only present in one area of the garage — that of the 43 car of Bubba Wallace," he continued.
Phelps said the organization should have used the word "alleged" when they announced a noose had been found in Wallace's garage on Sunday.
"As you can see from the photo, the noose was real, as was our concern for Bubba," he said. "With similar emotion, others across our industry and our media stood up to defend the NASCAR family — our NASCAR family — because they are part of the NASCAR family too. We were proud to see so many stand up for what's right."
The NASCAR head said the organization will continue to focus on ensuring "every competitor feels safe and every guest feels welcome."
According to their statement, after the noose allegation was announced on Sunday, they asked tracks to sweep their garages from anything similar. Out of 1,684 garage stalls at 29 tracks, 11 had pull-down ropes tied into a knot, and only the one at Talladega was tied into a noose.
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"Bubba Wallace and the 43 team had nothing to do with this," Phelps said on Thursday. "I want to thank Bubba Wallace and everyone at Richard Petty Motorsports. Specifically, I want to thank Bubba for his leadership over this past three weeks."
"Bubba has done nothing but represent this sport with courage, class and dignity and he stood tall for what he believes in," he continued. "And we all need to stand with him. I know I'm going to."
After the FBI released their findings, Wallace thanked them for the "swift" investigation.
"I think we'll gladly take a little embarrassment over what the alternatives could have been," Wallace said. "Make no mistake, though some will try, this should not detract from the show of unity we had on Monday, and the progress we've made as a sport to be a more welcoming environment for all."