UPDATE: FBI says no hate crime against NASCAR's Wallace; Wallace responds
Updated: Jul 24, 2020
The FBI concluded that NASCAR driver and Mobile (Alabama) native Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime after completing its investigation on Tuesday. The Talladega incident involved a noose in the garage stall of the series' only African American driver.
U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr. released a joint statement on Tuesday after concluding the investigation:
“On Monday, fifteen FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway. After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed.
The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week. The investigation also 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. 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.
The decision not to pursue federal charges is proper after reviewing all available facts and all applicable federal laws. We offer our thanks to NASCAR, Mr. Wallace, and everyone who cooperated with this investigation.”
Wallace: "It was a noose."
Wallace appeared on CNN, where he said there is no confusion that the rope had been fashioned into a noose.
“I wanted to make sure this wasn’t just a knot,” Wallace said. “It was a noose. Whether it was tied in 2019 … it is a noose. So, it wasn't directed at me, but somebody tied a noose. That's what I'm saying.”
The negative social media response to the FBI findings is clearly impacting the 26-year-old driver. “I’m sorry. I’m pissed,” Wallace told CNN's Don Lemon. “I’m mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that am and my integrity. They’re not stealing that from me, but trying to test that. And as a person that doesn’t need fame or the hype or the media, I could care less. I give two craps about that.”
Wallace said his character is constantly tested as a NASCAR driver, but he holds no ill-will toward NASCAR. “I stand behind Steve [Phelps], and I stand behind NASCAR,” he said. “NASCAR was worried about Talladega. We had that one circled on the radar with everything going on.”
NASCAR released the following statement in response to the FBI report:
"The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime. 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. 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.”