Bubba Wallace says he's relieved rope in NASCAR garage wasn't meant for him, blasts haters for calling him fake
'It's still frustrating to know people are always going to test you and always just gonna try to debunk you'
Bubba Wallace said on Wednesday, June 24 that he is "relieved" to know that the rope found in his NASCAR garage stall wasn't targeted at him, albeit he is not convinced it was an ordinary pull rope as determined by the FBI.
NASCAR revealed on Tuesday, June 23, the findings of an FBI investigation into an apparent noose found in the NASCAR driver's garage stall at the Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama over the weekend. The agency concluded that the object was, in fact, a garage door pull rope that may have been there since October last year.
"The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime," NASCAR said in a statement. "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."
Wallace — the only black full-time NASCAR driver — told CNN host Don Lemon on the night of June 23 that from what he was shown of the object, it did not appear to be a garage pull. "It was a noose. Whether tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose," he said. "So it wasn't directed at me but somebody tied a noose. That's what I'm saying."
The racer also responded to claims that the situation was another hoax like the Jussie Smollett case. Wallace defended himself saying that he didn't report the noose, but that it was brought to his attention.
"This will not break me, none of the allegations of being a hoax will break me or tear me down," he said. "It will piss me off, absolutely. But that only fuels the competitive drive in me to shut everybody up."
Wallace also spoke with the Today show's Craig Melvin on June 24, saying he "relieved, just like many others, to know that it wasn’t targeted toward me."
"It's still frustrating to know people are always going to test you and always just gonna try to debunk you," he added. "That's what I'm trying to wrap my head around now, from, you know, saying I'm a fake and all this stuff and that I reported it when it was news that was brought to me... so I was just kind of following suit. All in all, it's just another day."
“It was a rope pull for the garage door... but it was definitely in the shape of a noose," he continued. "It wasn’t a functioning noose. The photo evidence that I’ve seen and that I have in my possession [shows] of what was in our garage is exactly a garage pull. It is. That is a noose. I don’t know when we’ll get to the point to release that image. It’s alerting and it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.”
NASCAR added in its statement, "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."
Meanwhile, Richard Petty Motorsports said in a statement that no member of the team nor Wallace "had any involvement with the presence of the rope."
Wallace first addressed the noose incident on June 21, tweeting about how it had left him "incredibly saddened" and served "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."