Noose Found In Wallace’s Garage

Think about that for a moment.

Jim Rome
June 22, 2020 - 9:18 am
Bubba Wallace

USA Today

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Last night, NASCAR released a statement and honestly, it’s the kind of statement I never thought I’d be reading. But here it is:

"Late this afternoon, NASCAR was made aware that a noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team. We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act.”

The statement went on: “We have 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.

That’s right: a noose. A noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team yesterday at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama.

And the 43 team is the one led by Bubba Wallace, the only black driver in the Cup Series and the man who spoke out against the presence of the Confederate flag at NASCAR events and inspired change in the sport.

Wallace released a statement as well: "Today's despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me 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.”

He continued: "Over the last several weeks, I have been overwhelmed by the support from people across the NASCAR industry, including other drivers and team members in the garage. Together, our sport has made a commitment to driving real change and championing a community that is accepting and welcoming of everyone.”

"Nothing is more important and we will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate. As my mother told me today, "They are just trying to scare you." This 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."

Yes to all of that. According to Marty Smith, Wallace never saw the noose. It was spotted by a member of the team who immediately contacted NASCAR.

No doubt, this has been a challenging few months the sport. It wasn’t that long ago that Kyle Larson was dropping a n-bomb on a live mic. And just yesterday, after the ban on the Confederate flag at NASCAR events, someone paid to have an airplane fly the Confederate flag over the track with a banner that read: “Defund NASCAR.”

And now a noose in a garage. Think about that for a moment. Did someone make the noose at home and then bring it to the track? Or did they bring the rope to the track and then make the noose when they got to the garage?

And what was going through their mind as they were doing it? Did they think it was okay? Did they think it was funny? Because it’s neither. Worse yet, did they think other people would agree with them?

I would say that I can’t believe that this took place in 2020, but I won’t. I can’t. 

One, because saying that it took place in 2020 implies that there was a time when it was okay for a noose to be placed in the garage of a black driver. Like, it would’ve been understandable back in the 50s or 60s. But just because more people would’ve publicly supported that in the 50s or 60s does not mean it was morally okay then. It would’ve been horrific racism then just like it is horrifically racist now.

And here’s the other part about not saying that this took place in 2020: because it shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s happening in 2020.

If the last month has taught us anything, it’s that we aren’t living in some world where racism is over. That notion of a post-racial world was just that, a notion. There is a ton of work to be done when it comes to racism. And Not being racist isn’t enough. Being anti-racist, actively identifying, opposing, and deconstructing racism is what is called for. 

So I’m shocked and sickened that this happened, but I’m not surprised. There are racists out there who sense that change is taking place, that their world view is finally being challenged, and they’re desperate.

They are so desperate that they’re lashing out. And in this case, they’re doing it because a Black driver spoke up and said the Confederate flag at NASCAR events is not okay. And he was completely right.

What if your response to that was to make a noose and sneak into his garage with that noose? All because you can’t have a Confederate flag. Or because you want to attempt to scare and intimidate a Black man who spoke up.

Someone is hanging nooses to intimidate a guy because he spoke out against a flag of slavery and traitors. That flag, which was held by people who killed Americans, really means that much to you?

I would say that the person who did this is a low life, and they are, but the truth is, as we’ve seen numerous times over the last few weeks, the people who hold these views aren’t always the people we expect. They aren’t what you picture when you think of racists. They look like you and I. Some even have important jobs.

In the case of this incident, there is only a limited number of people who would have access to the garage. Whoever did it will be found and according to the statement, NASCAR will “eliminate them from the sport.”

I would say it’s a battle for the soul of NASCAR, but that’s a smaller part of a much larger battle, which is one for the soul of this country and for the promises that America has made to itself about freedom and equality. So, which side are you on?