NASCAR: Wallace “not the target of a hate crime” according to FBI

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NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the championship has announced.

The championship revealed on Sunday a noose has been discovered in the garage belonging to the driver of the number 43 car at Talladega Speedway.

Nooses, symbolic of lynchings, have long been used to intimidate black people. However the FBI’s investigation discovered the item in question had been left in the garage months earlier.

“The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime,” said NASCAR in a statement.

“The FBI report concludes, and the 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 assigned.”

NASCAR had reacted quickly following the discovery of the suspect noose. The series’ president Steve Phelps said on Monday anyone found to have been involved in placing it “will be banned from this sport for life”.

“We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba,” NASCAR’s statement concluded. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing.”

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Wallace’s rivals gave a show of support to the series’ only full-time black competitor ahead of the start of yesterday’s rain-delayed race, pushing his car to the front of the grid.

Speaking to media in a teleconference after the statement was made, Phelps shed light on how the noose came to be found. “I want to be clear about the 43 team: The 43 team had nothing to do with it,” he said.

“The evidence is very clear that the noose that was in that garage had been in the garage previously. The last race we had there in October, that noose was present.

“The fact that it was not found until a member of the 43 team came there is something that is a fact. We had not been back to the garage.

“It was a quick, one-day show. The crew member went back in there, he looked at, saw the noose, brought it to the attention of his crew chief, who then went to the NASCAR series director Jay Fabian and we launched this investigation.

“To be clear, we would do this again. The evidence that we had, it was clear that we needed to look into the incident.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 71 comments on “NASCAR: Wallace “not the target of a hate crime” according to FBI”

    1. This has been updated with a further quote from NASCAR president Steve Phelps explaining how the discovery which prompted the investigation was made.

      1. Thanks for updating this Keith, it’s important that people understand the facts and not jump to rather depressing conclusions. The world has moved on massively from Mississippi Burning thank goodness.

        1. @frasier

          I live in the south – I think a noose-like loop is a two for one. A pretty knot and a racist symbol. Looking at the picture, sure, it could have been just a loop. Just enough excuse to get away with it. But I think whoever did it knew better.

          To me it was most likely a casual racist territorial marking. Like putting a Confederate flag sticker on the bathroom wall.

          I don’t see how this changes much. It is good it wasn’t a direct threat against Wallace, which is something, especially to him. But it is still a reminder that some people are not interested in tolerance.

          1. it sure was a huge coincidence that this one tied into a noose was exactly at that garag, right @slotopen. I am glad NASCAR got fully behind their driver and as a community made clear that this is (no longer) part of NASCAR.

            1. They said it’s been there since last autumn. Unless they knew Wallace was eventually using that garage then it seems like it was a coincidence.

            2. It wasn’t any kind of threat to anyone. There was a similar pull-down rope on the garage right next Wallace’s. They are not “nooses”. The whole thing was a made-up farce.

          2. @slotopen

            A noose is not just ‘pretty,’ but useful. It’s a knot that tightens under load. It can also be used to make a convenient handle at the end of a rope.

            But facts matter less and less in a world where people are just looking for evidence for their own biases.

            @bascb

            Yet coincidences happen a lot, which is why we should investigate before jumping to conclusions.

            1. @aapje

              Beauty is found where form follows function. A noose is a functional slip knot. It is also attractive because the loose ends is hidden. Which is probably why it is used in public executions instead of an easier to tie slipknot.

              A noose is not useful as a door pull because it is a slip knot. The loop would close on your hand. What was tied in the garage was something else, like a figure 8 loop, with the excess wrapped around. Which took a little time and care.

              Since nooses are such awful symbols in America they should be avoided. I have a thick leash with a binding that looks a little like a noose. As a colorful dog leash it is neat and attractive. But I would never hang it somewhere because it looks like a noose.

              I’m sticking with my assessment this was most likely a casual racist symbol, and the best you can say is somebody should have known better.

            2. @slotopen

              No, the slip knot was superseded by the hangman’s knot for hangings in various places to produce a levering action, by way of the heavy mass of the knot. This reduces the chance that the hanging will fail to result in a (fast) death.

              I agree that the door pull is probably not a noose, but something that looks so similar that people will mistake it for one.

              As for the noose being a symbol: I would argue that this is perceived as a racist symbol regardless of context much more in recent times and among progressives, who in the past few years have become far more concerned with racism (even though the progressive narrative often seems to be that the right has become more racist, but various studies shows that this is not true). My observation (as a non-American) is that American progressives often have a weird mixture of globalist multiculturalism and parochialism, where they often cannot fathom that their own contemporary cultural taboos and concerns are not universal.

              People may not be a fan of historic revisionism, where it is demanded that a kind of noose that was historically both used for lynchings (of both black and white people, although disproportionately the former) and for capital punishment, may only be seen as a symbol of one part of history, which in turn seems to serve an ideological agenda. Or they may simply want to use the best tool for the job, rather than be forced to use worse knots.

              It is also questionable whether the concern over these symbols is proportional or healthy. As far as I’ve seen, almost all noose-outrages over the last few years were innocent objects mistaken for a noose, hoaxes or cases where innocent explanations seem at least as likely as the actions of a white supremacist. Is it a good thing if black people become very fearful of being targeted because someone dropped packaged shoelaces or a black man hung some exercise straps in a tree?

        2. Unfortunately the comments section for this site has lost a lot of its credibility.

          1. Alex Roy, you are one of the only sane ones left.

    2. In a time of heightened awareness, even an innocent pull rope can take on a sinister meaning.

      1. Heightened awareness or heightened paranoia?

        1. met by heightened ignorance.

          1. Fanned by a willing media

            1. Which the vast majority factor in to their critical thinking about any matter.

    3. Jack (@jackisthestig)
      24th June 2020, 0:07

      Quite a contrast to the McLaren motorhome in Formula One.

      1. Odd thing to say. Is the Ferrari one less opulent?

        1. William Jones
          24th June 2020, 8:21

          It really is, the McLaren one is ridiculous, even by F1 standards!

          1. I’d say the Red Bull Energy Station is more extravagant

    4. Well, what a relief. Not that this means that there’s no racism and no need to be alert to it, but at least nobody was making direct threats.

      I wonder perhaps how many of us – myself included – jumped to conclusions because of the demographic NASCAR typically serves? It’s very easy to fall into basic prejudices, even for those that think they’re above it.

      1. Indeed, nobody seems to care much about this kind of discrimination. I’ve talked to a guy who had to get rid of his southern accent to stop being stereotyped as a dumb hick in the coastal states (where he migrated to). He said that it is extremely overt and unapologetic.

        I guess that it’s all about the narrative: who you are allowed to discriminate against by the media and other elites, vs those against whom discrimination is seen as a crime against humanity.

        George Orwell had it right as always: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

    5. Hemingway (@)
      24th June 2020, 0:29

      As soon as I read the first article I suspected it was overblown, or another Jussie Smollett situation. This update comes as no surprise

      1. I thought the same but chose to say nothing. It was sad to notice that any rational thought was instantly labelled as being racist. I didn’t expected it to be this ridiculous in the end in every way though… But just like with the helmut marko case there are people who seem to be almost dreamy and lustful for these kinds of situations. I hope next time there is more room for due process and less of this pitch fork “burn them alive” mentality. Racism is an important issue but it won’t be solved by imagining things that are not there.

    6. NeverElectric
      24th June 2020, 1:10

      Awkward….but the times we live in are socially uneasy and anything can become anything. As we say in Africa, Darkness is so great it gives horns to a dog.

    7. For those that jumped on the bandwagon of ‘fake news’…like Marko’s supposed comments’ sorry, no cigar!

      1. Totally different. There was nothing fake about the crew member finding the noose, and the subsequent reaction was hardly a surprise. In hindsight, I suppose it would have been more prudent to keep this quiet until the investigation had been completed.

        1. Unfortunately we live in a time where everything is overblown out of porpotion, both good and bad things.

    8. God even motorsport is now going to be overrun by political motives . Surely seeing as it was attached to a garage door logic would have suggested it was used to pull down the door .. now we are going to have the take the knee rubbish before the F1 race next weekend and all drivers will have to participate or be labelled racist by the media.

      1. Broccoliface
        24th June 2020, 2:56

        The story smelt bad at the start and now it’s positively rotten. It didn’t even look like a noose, it was just a loop on the end of a doorpull. I have trouble imagining a mechanic had never seen a garage door handle before. And that it managed to travel through the team and up the chain without someone saying ‘thats the garage door handle loop’.

        1. William Jones
          24th June 2020, 8:14

          It definitely was a noose, and not just a simple noose knot, it was specifically a hangman’s noose, and it’s a terrible knot for a garage door opening rope because the whole point of a noose is that it tightens and doesn’t loosen again. It was done because someone thought it would be edgy, not to attack Wallace, sure, but to say it doesn’t even look like a noose is absurd.

          1. It was there since October 2019, I doubt it was tightening or it would’t work as a garage door pulley. It looks like a noose, but akmost certainly it is a non tightening knot.

            It seems that the Menards team does it, there are multiple photos of the same type of knot in their garages.

      2. Sonny Crockett
        24th June 2020, 9:03

        @Roam

        “Take the knee rubbish…”

        Are you serious?!

        As a white male it’s as clear to me now as it was when I was a kid that we live in a racist world. Kneeling at a high profile sporting event is exactly the way to raise awareness.

        You might not like it. Sadly that says more about you than it does about BLM as a cause.

        1. Kneeling is a sign of submission and completely the wrong statement.

          Instead people should be standing proudly shoulder to shoulder and not groveling at the flavour of the moments races feet….

        2. @Sonny I have one black parent and one white parent and as a man who could be labeled as black the take a knee nonsense is nonsense. The stigma against black men exists purely because so many black men in America are criminals and violent and . I understand this and understand why police and other members of the public can be wary off me . I watch sports like soccer and motor racing to escape from life not to have faux BLM support rammed down by throat .

      3. And when do they take a knee? Isn’t it when they are forced to partake in that ridiculous nonsense at the front of the grid and they have to pretend to respect some corrupt countries bit of cloth? Seems an ideal time to make a political statement.

        1. That’s when I’m expecting to happen Ian . Although maybe they won’t line up now for the national anthem due to social distancing. Expect Hamilton to post a photo of himself taking a knee to his Instagram to stay relevant though

    9. Here is a link to a photo of the “noose.”

        1. Jack (@jackisthestig)
          24th June 2020, 3:21

          Wow, all that fuss over that!?

          1. Straight up paranoia or someone wanted their 15 minutes in the trending spotlight.

            1. I’m gonna assume most of you guys are European being an F1 page . But yes, as an American believe me black and mixed race people over here love to blame absolutely everything on white people and the government and the “system ” anyone with a logical brain can see that isn’t a noose . But bubba is just like Hamilton. Loves to forget his amazing privilege of being a professional race driver and act like the world is trying to keep him down .

    10. This is what happens when people start looking for racism.

      Months ago someone innocently thought it would be easier to make a handle for the garage door pull down rope when using that garage and current paranoia on race relations meant they jumped to the conclusion of racism without questioning if it actually served a purpose or if it might be something else other than racism.

      1. If you look everywhere for X, and then reckon everything you see as X, you’ll find X everywhere

      2. to a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail

    11. This is worse than Jussy Smollett. He faked outrage and cried to exploit worldwide movement against discrimination to promote himself. Disgusting.

      1. Seriously?

        I don’t recall anybody even suggesting that Wallace staged this.
        And any reasonable person can understand that finding a rope tied into a noose in a coloured person’s garage can be very upsetting.

        Shame on you making these accusations.

        1. No. Shame on you to support people who celebrate himself and ruin a good cause.

          1. Merely calling out ignorant commenters making baseless accusations.

            Only because we now find out that the noose was not meant for him, and might just be an innocent knotting exercise, you think it is okay to attack Wallace and accuse him of being worse than what Jussy (allegedly) did?

            1. the noose was not meant for him, and might just be an innocent knotting exercise

              You really didn’t knew that the so called noose was just a rope loop knot to pull garage door and it has been there for years, do you?

              Just watch The View on how Bubba saying everyone who don’t believe him was ‘simple-minded people’ and how he backtrack on Don Lemon’s CNN that he didn’t report hate crime and shift to blame it to Nascar president only to double down that it still a noose even after FBI investigation.

              Funny that you called me ignorant and telling me the disgusting thing Jussie did is just an allegation. SMH.

        2. A noose?
          Or a ‘handle’… Depending on your own personal interpretation, of course.
          A similar shape, but an entirely different function and intention.

          1. Sonny Crockett
            24th June 2020, 9:13

            A bit like the word “spade” perhaps? Its usage open to interpretation.

            I have to say that I’m dismayed by the tone of many of the posters on this site. I realise that F1 is predominantly a white, middle-class world but still wasn’t prepared for the flippant attitude of many contributors.

            A black man was murdered by a police officer. The black community knows that the scenario is a microcosm of the prejudice they experience almost daily and, quite rightly, they have had enough.

            Wallace had nothing to do with this. It was a crew member that reported the rope and, given recent events, I think it’s understandable that this happened. In a way it’s a positive as it shows that, finally, racism will be rooted out, even in NASCAR, a sport which is popular in some of America’s most racist states.

            1. I admit that I had to google your definition of that word. I’d never heard it before – but then I don’t actively go looking for words that can be used in a derogatory manner.

              Your second paragraph is quite a dubious statement. It’s almost as though you are making a very presumptive racist/classist statement of your own. I won’t go into that one any further.
              And your ‘flippant’ may very well be a show of restraint and self-moderation. People can both care deeply about a particular subject AND avoid being 100% consumed by it at all times.
              An F1-themed website is not seen by all people as the appropriate vehicle to express their socio-political views.

          2. A noose is just the name for a knot, which can be used to make a loop at the end of a rope. A loop at the end of the rope can be used as a handle…or to hang someone.

      2. Nik (@nickelodeon81)
        24th June 2020, 11:31

        Are you saying he knew this wasn’t a hate crime from the start?

        1. If he made an honest mistake, he would already made an apology.

    12. I am a White man living in Denver who grew up in a county in Maryland where several hundred men showed up to the monthly KKK “meeting” / cross burning. I was beaten while in high school for being seen talking to the only black girl in my class. I am constantly amazed at the racist comments and “jokes” I hear, and the difference in treatment between my Black friends and me when we are in public.

      Two Black men have been found hanging from trees in southern California in the last week. Federal investigators are working to determine whether they are suicides or lynchings.

      Anyone who believes that NASCAR was overreacting, particularly after banning the Confederate flag from their events, either does not understand the situation or is showing their White privilege. Bubba Wallace knew that he was making a target of himself when he pushed for the flag banishment. I have a great respect for that, and for the support he has received from the NASCAR management, drivers, crews, and most fans.

    13. Great, its been investigated. Shame that the typical media outlets were crying wolf, before an investigation (which is the media’s job before crying wolf).

      1. Sonny Crockett
        24th June 2020, 9:31

        Or…

        …the media was provided with information and reported it.

        1. The media reports information completely differently depending on whether it supports their favored narratives or goes against it. In the latter case, they will suddenly become very cautious with their claims and will investigate thoroughly. Or they won’t report on it at all.

      2. It seems to be a new sport since 2016 to blame the media for everything (you don’t like).
        The reporting the media did in this case was about the facts of a newsworthy story (not investigative journalism as you allude to). And at least the media that I follow stuck to reporting the facts (e.g. statements by NASCAR).

        And don’t confuse comment sections with the reporting of the formal media.

        So rather than accusing the media in general of jumping the gun, you might want to reconsider which media to follow.

        1. @coldfly

          One of the ways the media manipulates people is by merely regurgitating claims by a third party, when those claims fit their own biases, but fact checking or pointing out the problems with claims by a third party that go against their biases.

          The result is slanted reporting.

          1. The last part of my last sentence applies in this case, @aapje.

          2. GtisBetter (@passingisoverrated)
            24th June 2020, 16:00

            “The media” doesn’t exist. You are doing what you claim “the media” does. You are “the media”

            1. No, I’m not a journalist. My income doesn’t depend on social approval of my writing.

              Ultimately, there is a lot of evidence that most people want to be reinforced in their beliefs and to have their ego stroked, rather than actually learn the truth. For example, various studies have found that the people who are most educated on a subject tend to be most polarized in both directions, exactly the outcome you’d expect if people prefer to consume slanted information that supports their biases over nuanced information.

              The media just gives people what they want, but that doesn’t make it moral.

        2. Well ever since the Internet happened, most media outlets have gone down the route of anything for the clicks, and when a “story” will appear to generate alot of those. It will be blatantly thrown online just for the sake of generating those most clicks.

          Oh and if you are familiar with the world at all, you would have known that “blaming the media for everything since 2016” as you frame it, has been happening since the existence of the media. The two go hand in hand, however critique often gets framed as if it is nothing more than “blaming the media”.

          1. I thought people would understand my 2016 reference.

            1. Blaming it all on Trump is another popular, but wrong narrative. The left has increasingly abandoned the working class, in favor of the professional-manager class (PMC). Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and many other ‘third way’ or neoliberal politicians diverged from more traditional socialism in favor of policies that benefit the PMC at the expense of the working class and the lower middle class.

              Lefties that don’t care for the lower class have always existed in socialist parties. George Orwell pointed this out in Road to Wigan Pier:

              “The truth is that, to many people calling themselves Socialists, revolution does not mean a movement of the masses with which they hope to associate themselves; it means a set of reforms which ‘we’, the clever ones, are going to impose upon ‘them’, the Lower Orders. On the other hand, it would be a mistake to regard the book-trained Socialist as a bloodless creature entirely incapable of emotion. Though seldom giving much evidence of affection for the exploited, he is perfectly capable of displaying hatred—a sort of queer, theoretical, in vacuo hatred—against the exploiters.”

              Traditionally, there would be quite a few smart working class socialists to keep these people in check to a certain degree, but improved access to education has robbed the working class of most of their advocates. This is why all across the Western world, the working class has been abandoning the socialist parties, in favor of ‘populist’ parties. Those parties first abandoned them.

              Meanwhile, the PMC socialists have all kinds of narratives that justify their attacks on the well-being of the working class. For example, they argue that free trade benefits all, although it has demonstrably resulted in working class jobs going to China and such, while the PMC’s benefit. They argue that opposing mass migration is racist, ignoring that these migrants compete much more from working class jobs than PMC jobs, while the benefits go much more to the upper and upper middle class. They argue that poor black people need help, but their actual policies, like affirmative action, nearly exclusively help middle and upper middle class black people. When I point that out, I typically see zero concern about this, showing who they truly care about.

              The media are almost all PMCs, which is why they tend to believe these narratives as well. Meanwhile, the people who don’t like being oppressed (nor being told that they can’t be oppressed because they are white, male, or both) are looking for people who do care about them. That they couldn’t find a better advocate than Trump in the US, is an indictment of the rest of the elites, who deceive themselves into the belief that their policies benefit this group and that their anger merely comes from bigotry and hatred.

    14. Mark in Florida
      24th June 2020, 16:41

      So a double half hitch is now a noose? Great day are we that sensitive now? I feel you look for offense you will surely find it.

    15. That spectacle of pushing his car to the front was cringe-worthy. All those drivers had to jump on the bandwagon of denouncing a racist act that never took place. It’s not that Bubba didn’t see the noose, so he’s not responsible for the mis-interpretation, it was his readiness to seek the spotlight on a falsehood, and his willingness to lump in innocent people as being part of that false narrative. That’s what he should issue an apology for.

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