Bubba Wallace Calls Out Noose Hoax Conspiracy Theorists and Admits They Still Boo Him More Than a Year After Talladega Incident
Bubba Wallace is a NASCAR Cup Series race winner. No one can ever take that title away from him. However, as the lone Black driver in NASCAR’s top series, he’s unsurprisingly also referred to as many other unsavory things from a select group of fans.
During an appearance on HBO’s The Shop: Uninterrupted, the 23XI Racing driver candidly opened up on why he became the unofficial spokesperson for NASCAR last year on social justice issues, how the perception of him dramatically changed following the suspected noose incident, and just what he thinks of those people who continue to boo him today.
Bubba Wallace speaks out about social justice issues
Before the pandemic, like many Cup Series drivers, Bubba Wallace hung out in the infield with fans playing corn hole and having a good time. On the season finale episode of HBO’s The Shop: Uninterrupted, the 28-year-old driver admitted in all those enjoyable moments that he never noticed if there were confederate flags flying above.
However, his perspective dramatically changed in 2020 in a confluence of events, including the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd and the pandemic.
“I just went to go have fun and live my life, and I didn’t notice those things until you had time to notice,” the driver said. “Last year, when you’re sitting home during the pandemic, and during the shutdown, it’s like, ‘Oh s***, this is big.'”
Before that time, Wallace had been relatively quiet. That epiphany prompted him to speak out. Shortly after, he appeared on CNN and said NASCAR should ban the confederate flag because it represented hate, not heritage. Days later, the flag and all related memorabilia were permanently banned from all NASCAR facilities.
Noose incident at Talladega and former President attacks on Twitter
Unsurprisingly, many fans were not happy with NASCAR’s decision and directed their anger at Wallace. The disdain and accompanying rhetoric exponentially increased a few weeks later.
First, a member of Wallace’s team (not Wallace himself) discovered a noose-like rope hanging in his garage stall at Talladega. In a moving moment of unity, the drivers and teams stood with Wallace on race day, pushing his car down pit road together. Several openly spoke out against racism.
At the same time, the FBI opened an investigation into the incident as a possible hate crime. Several days later, the agency determined the rope had been installed since the previous fall.
Out of the blue, a couple of weeks later, former President Donald Trump took to Twitter and sparked a fire that continues to burn today when he inaccurately suggested Wallace was somehow involved in the incident and oddly asked him for an apology.
“Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX?” Trump tweeted. “That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!”
Later that day, Wallace responded to the President’s tweet: “To the next generation and little ones following my foot steps..” with the hashtag #LoveWins. He then included an inspirational note to his fans that concluded with: “Last thing, always deal with the hate being thrown at you with LOVE! Love over hate every day. Love should come naturally as people are TAUGHT to hate. Even when it’s HATE from the POTUS. Love wins.”
Bubba Wallace calls out people who continue to push noose hoax conspiracy theory
During Wallace’s appearance on the HBO show, which also included guests David Beckham and James Corden, he talked about how he’s regularly booed by fans and how it has only intensified since last year’s noose incident at Talladega.
“Ever since 16 months ago, everything that went on, Talladega last year with the noose and stuff, the fan perception for me has definitely changed,” Wallace admitted. “I get booed a lot. I get booed a lot because of everything, the perception of how the noose went down. They think it’s another fake crime, a hoax, and they thought that I planted it because I wasn’t successful, and now they’re all booing me.”
When rapper Saweetie asked Wallace how the boos made him feel, he didn’t sugarcoat his answer.
“You know, for me personally, I’m pissed off about it, but at the same time I just wanted to go race,” he said. “It was the same mentality I had when I was nine. Said, ‘I can’t wait to get to the racetrack.'”
While Wallace may hear a higher volume of boos, the cheers have also noticeably increased. His popularity in the sport has skyrocketed for multiple reasons, most notably for his role as an activist and decision to speak out for more inclusion.
In addition, he’s now with 23XI Racing and co-owner Michael Jordan, one of the most popular sports figures of all time. Sponsors are lining up to work with the team to reach a new growing demographic that’s watching on television and going to the track.
Add into the mix that he’s now earned his first Cup win, and Bubba Wallace’s future looks bright no matter how many fans continue to boo him.