NASCAR has spent days basking in the publicity of an alleged racial scandal that was announced prior to Sunday’s Alabama race at Talladega Superspeedway.
But was it all a hoax?
On Tuesday, the FBI determined that a noose reported to be found in black driver Bubba Wallace’s garage had been there since at least last year, according to a joint statement from U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr. :
“On Monday, fifteen FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway. After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed.
The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week. The investigation also revealed evidence, including authentic video confirmed by NASCAR, that the noose found in garage number 4 was in that garage as early as October 2019. Although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week.
The decision not to pursue federal charges is proper after reviewing all available facts and all applicable federal laws. We offer our thanks to NASCAR, Mr. Wallace, and everyone who cooperated with this investigation.”
Sunday’s noose allegation was fully embraced by NASCAR officials and immediately used as a public relations opportunity.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps declared that whoever was responsible would be punished with a lifetime ban from the sport.
“Today’s despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me 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 in a statement posted online.
“Together our sport has made a commitment to driving real change and championing a community that is accepting and welcoming of everyone,” adding, “we will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate.”
Many fans and critics were skeptical of the Jussie Smollett-sounding story that seemed highly unlikely for a variety of reasons. Read more reaction HERE.