By: Ashley McCubbin
In his first comments since the conclusion of the FBI investigation surrounding the noose in the Talladega Superspeedway garage area, Bubba Wallace expressed frustration in those who have questioned his character.
“I’m pissed,” he stated. “I’m mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that I am and my integrity and they’re not stealing away from me, but they’re trying to test that. As a person doesn’t need the fame, doesn’t need the hype, the media – I could care less, two craps about that – but to sit there and read, I’m reading too much into it.”
On Sunday night, NASCAR released a statement that they, alongside the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), were launching an investigation into possible hate crime after a noose found by a Richard Petty Motorsports crew member in Wallace’s stall at the speedway.
The investigation conclusions were revealed on Tuesday afternoon by the FBI that there was no hate crime committed, and the noose had been in the garage stall since at least last October.
Speaking with Don Lemon on CNN, Wallace went on to detail how he found out about the noose initially from NASCAR President Steve Phelps.
While making dinner plans with his fellow drivers after the race was called, Wallace received a phone call from Phelps that he wanted to speak with him.
“It’s a phone call that I will never forget; it’s one of those phone calls that you can tell in the first couple of seconds that something is wrong,” Wallace shared.
The pair met up shortly thereafter in Wallace’s motorhome, with Wallace saying the look on Phelp’s face alerted him something was wrong.
““The conversation I had with Steve Phelps was probably one of the hardest things he had ever done,” Wallace recalled. “Tears rolling down his face, chocked up on every word that he was trying to say in the evidence that he had brought to me that a hate crime was committed. And I immediately thought my family was in danger, so I was about ready to call my dad and mom to make sure they were okay. It was in the garage stall that my car was at, so I was kind of taken back and not really comprehending everything.
Wallace himself never saw the noose in his own eyes, restating that drivers are not allowed in the garage with the COVID-19 restrictions, but rather are supposed to stay in their motorhome when they are not on pit road getting ready to race or racing.
“The image that I have seen of what was hanging in my garage is not a garage pull,” Wallace said. “I’ve been racing all my life. We’ve raced out of hundreds of garages that never had garage pulls like that. People that want to call it a garage pull put out old videos and photos of knots as their evidence, go ahead. From the evidence that I have, it’s a straight-up noose. The FBI has stated that it was a noose over and over again. NASCAR leadership has stated that it was a noose. I can confirm that. I actually got evidence of what was hanging in my garage over my car around my pit crew guy to confirm that it was a noose. Never seen anything like it.”
Despite the FBI closing the investigation, NASCAR is keeping theirs open as they want answers as to how it got there, and will be sharing those once discovered, while taking questions from the media at that time.
For his part in what happened, Wallace appreciates the leadership in NASCAR and how they handled this situation.
“But the way Steve was communicating to me that everything was going on, it showed he’s going to stand up for what’s right, and he’s not going to tolerate any racist acts and anything, and I stand behind Steve, and I stand behind NASCAR,” he commented. “Like they said in their statements, if it happened again, they wouldn’t change anything.”