NASCAR President Steve Phelps made it absolutely clear- whomever placed the noose in the garage of Bubba Wallace will be banned from the sport forever.
“Unequivocally they will be banned from this sport for life,” Phelps said on a conference call with the media minutes ago. “There is no room for this at all. We won’t tolerate it. They won’t be here. I don’t care who they are, they will not be here.”
It was Phelps himself who informed Wallace about the noose (a symbol historically synonymous with white supremacist lynching, i.e. murdering, African-Americans) being found in his garage at the Talledega Superspeedway.
Holy. Shit. pic.twitter.com/xxNgzI8qKA
— Paul Maximilian Banks (@PaulMBanks) June 22, 2020
Late last night, NASCAR sent out a press release denouncing the incident as a “heinous act.” Phelps said the racing body is working directly with the FBI and checking every list of everybody who had access to the garage areas.
Most likely the person or people who committed this deplorable, bigoted act is someone who has access to the raceway. However, Phelps didn’t rule out a security breach.
“The security around getting into the footprint is significant,” said Phelps on the conference call.
“As I’m sure you guys are aware, we have limited it just to essential personnel. Security is very tight getting in and out of the footprint. I can’t speculate whether there would be a breach or not.”
Wallace, the league’s only Black driver has been subjected to egregiously disgusting acts of bigotry, including threats against his life. The placing of the noose inside his garage itself is a death threat.
Much like in this country at large, racial tensions are extremely high in NASCAR right now, especially so since the league banned Confederate flags from all events. Wallace’s promoting the Black Lives Matter movement on his car’s paint scheme, has also created a backlash.
Phelps said that Wallace has handled all the stress and strife sent his way with aplomb.
“It’s a difficult moment for Bubba,” Phelps continued.
“It’s a difficult moment for me. He’s handled it with the grace that he has handled everything that’s happened over the last few weeks.”
Phelps is confident they will find the perpetrator of this hate crime.
“We’re going to use every effort we can to determine who has done this, whether it’s a single person or multiple people. I know that the director of the FBI has informed the Birmingham office to use all their resources to find out, as well, all the resources available to NASCAR, the FBI,” he said.
“The teams and drivers and anyone who would have any access to this have all said, Hey, we want to me sure we figure out who has done this vile act.”
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) June 22, 2020
Beyond that, he wasn’t really at liberty to say much more about the situation, as it is an ongoing investigation.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TV, Sports Illustrated, Chicago Now and SB Nation.