Photo Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images
NASCAR drivers, pit crew members and others showed their support for Bubba Wallace on Monday (June 22). The group walked alongside Wallace and his Number 43 car at the Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama, as a show of solidarity after a noose was found in his garage on Sunday.
Wallace is the only Black driver in NASCAR and an outspoken supporter of Black Lives Matter. He was also instrumental in pushing for NASCAR's recent Confederate Flag ban, according to CNN.
NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O'Donnell tweeted a video of Monday's procession. Wallace, wearing an American flag face mask, was emotional while hugging drivers and supporters:
A noose was found hanging in the garage stall used by Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only African American driver just weeks after he convinced the auto racing organization to ban confederate flags at tracks and facilities, ESPN reported.
"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," NASCAR said in a statement. "We have launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport.”
According to ESPN, Wallace never saw the noose himself, but another member of his team did see it and told NASCAR about it. The incident took place at Talladega Speedway in Talladega, Alabama.
Wallace, who drives the No. 43 Chevrolet vehicle for Richard Petty Motorsports blasted the action in a statement.
"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," Wallace wrote in a message posted on Twitter. "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."
The incident comes as Wallace led a successful effort to get NASCAR to ban the confederate flag from its events. But defiant racing fans waved it from their cars on the street outside the racetrack over the weekend. An airplane was even shown flying over the track with a confederate flag and a sign that read “Defund NASCAR,” according to ESPN.
L.A. Lakers superstar Lebron James tweeted his support for Wallace, calling the incident “sickening.”
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