On Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI released a statement on their findings in the investigation of a noose found in the garage stall of Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 team, which fields cars for the sport’s lone African-American driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, Bubba Wallace.
According to a joint statement from the U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr., there were no federal crimes committed and that the noose being in Wallace’s garage stall was a mere coincidence, as the noose has been in that garage stall since at least October 2019. This according to video that NASCAR shared for the investigation.
The entire statement from the FBI read:
On Monday, fifteen FBI special agents conducted numerous interview regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway. After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding the 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.
It appears instead of being a malicious action, the noose being in Wallace’s garage stall was merely nothing more than a coincidence. While, this isn’t the conclusion that we expected after the initially jarring news of a noose being found in Wallace’s garage stall, it is a relief that nobody perpetrated this type of callous act on purpose.
After the FBI released their statement, NASCAR released a statement of their own, which clarifies what the noose actually was. Turns out, it was a pull down rope for the garage door.
“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.”
Following the statements from the FBI and NASCAR, Wood Brothers Racing released a statement as well. They were the team that occupied garage stall No. 4 last October at Talladega Superspeedway and were able to assist in the investigation, when one of their employees recalled the noose-style knot at the end of the garage door pull rope.
STATEMENT ON THE COINCIDENCE OF OUR STALL FROM 2019 AND THE INVESTIGATION pic.twitter.com/SJgKus8o8T
— Wood Brothers Racing (@woodbrothers21) June 23, 2020
On Tuesday evening, NASCAR President Steve Phelps addressed the FBI findings in a five minute teleconference, where he took no questions.
Phelps admitted that while what was thought of as a hate crime, ultimately wasn’t, NASCAR wouldn’t do anything differently in that same situation in the future.
Following the conference call, NASCAR Public Relations released another bit of information that Phelps forgot to include in the call. The pull rope, which had been fashioned into a noose in 2019, is the only garage door in the Talladega Superspeedway with a noose tied onto the end of it.
This certainly played a hand in why this was thought of as a targeted attack against Wallace and the No. 43 team.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.