NASCAR said it’s investigating who placed a noose in the garage of Bubba Wallace, the company’s lone black driver in its Cup Series.
“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,” NASCAR said in a statement.
Wallace and other drivers were preparing for a race Sunday at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
The race was postponed to Monday because of inclement weather.
Wallace in a statement called what happened a “despicable act of racism and hatred” that left him “incredibly saddened and serves 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.”
Wallace said he’s received overwhelming support from drivers and NASCAR fans in recent weeks and praised those within the sport for committing to a number of changes.
“Together, our sport has made a commitment to driving real change and championing a community that is accepting and welcoming of everyone. Nothing is more important and we will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate,” he added.
“As my mother told me today, ‘They are just trying to scare you.’ This will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down. I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in.”
The Talladega County Sheriff’s Office didn’t pick up the phone when called Monday for information on the incident.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, said Monday she was “shocked and appalled” to hear about the noose, adding: “Racism and threats of this nature will not be condoned nor tolerated, and I commit to assisting in any way possible to ensure that the person responsible for this is caught and punished.”
Michael McDowell, another NASCAR driver, shared NASCAR’s statement on social media, saying: “God help us. The level of evil it takes to do something like this is disgusting. This is enraging and heartbreaking all at the same time.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. said on Twitter he hopes Wallace wins the race.
The semi-retired driver said he is confident NASCAR’s leadership will find the culprit but that he worries about Wallace.
“I do worry about Bubba. I hope Bubba is feeling loved and supported,” he wrote. “Keep sending him that love and support. He needs it now more than ever.”