NASCAR Confronts Racism in Moving Moment of Support for Bubba Wallace Before Talladega Race
Less than 24 hours after a noose was discovered hanging in Bubba Wallace’s garage, the NASCAR community presented a powerful message of solidarity before the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. In a never-before-seen move, all drivers and pit crews walked together down pit road, pushing Wallace’s No. 43 car to the front of the pack with the driver riding inside. All teams then stood behind him for the pre-race prayer and national anthem.
Noose found hanging in Bubba Wallaces’ stall
Sunday was the scheduled day for the GEICO 500 and NASCAR was prepared to allow 5,000 fans into Talladega Superspeedway. It was the first time a large number of fans would be at a venue since the resumption of racing after the stoppage due to the pandemic.
With NASCAR’s recent announcement on the banishment of confederate flags, the organization was prepared to confiscate any flags or memorabilia. There were no such incidents with the exception of a plane that flew overhead with a banner behind it that featured a confederate flag and had the words written behind it, “DEFUND NASCAR.”
While NASCAR didn’t have any problems with fans misbehaving, the same couldn’t be said for the garage area, where a noose was found hanging in the garage of the No. 43 car and Bubba Wallace. According to ESPN’s Marty Smith, Wallace never personally saw it, but once a member of his team did, they notified NASCAR officials.
NASCAR responds with statement
NASCAR, who has surprised many by its progressive actions taken in recent weeks including the banishment of the confederate flag, immediately responded with a forceful message on the day’s events.
“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. 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.”
NASCAR stands with Bubba Wallace in moving moment before Monday’s race
NASCAR has said in recent weeks it firmly stands with Bubba Wallace. On Monday, they showed it. Before the race, Wallace rode inside his No. 43 car as his fellow competitors pushed the vehicle down pit road with members from other teams following behind. It was a poignant moment of solidarity behind the lone black driver on the Cup Series who has been the frontman for NASCAR in recent weeks in joining the national conversation on racial inequality and police brutality.
Wallace was visibly moved by the support and had to compose himself after drivers pushed him to the front. Once to the front, the drivers all stood behind Wallace for the pre-race prayer and national anthem. With the anthem complete, the drivers approached Wallace one at a time, offering fistbumps and hugs to their fellow competitor before returning to their respective vehicles.
Before the pre-race activities, NASCAR legend and owner of Wallace’s car, Richard Petty, said he was enraged by yesterday’s incident and stands “shoulder to shoulder with Bubba.” Many of the same drivers who walked behind Wallace’s vehicle down pit road also showed their support before the race by posting to their social media accounts the hashtag #istandwithbubba. NASCAR also made an addition to the infield before the race that included the same hashtag.