Late Sunday night, despite the scheduled race at Talladega for that day being washed out by rain storms, NASCAR found itself at the top of the sports news cycle for horrific reasons after they announced they were launching an investigation into a noose found in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall at the track.
Wallace, NASCAR’s lone Black driver, has been vocal in recent weeks, speaking up about systemic racism, police brutality, and calling for change within the sport he loves to be more inclusive and welcoming. NASCAR, to its credit, finally was willing to listen and issued a ban of the confederate flag from races and events, unsurprisingly leading to backlash from some fans.
The noose found in Wallace’s pit stall was not from a fan, however, as garage access is extremely restricted right now amid the COVID-19 pandemic and, although 5,000 fans were allowed to the race on Sunday, none were in the infield or garage area. That means this was a threat from someone inside NASCAR, likely on a race team or possibly a track employee. Whatever the case, NASCAR has promised to “eliminate them from the sport” once they find the culprit.
Wallace issued a statement of his own, promising that he won’t back down despite the effort to intimidate him to be quiet, and he quickly got encouragement from LeBron James, someone that knows plenty about being told to shut up and dribble.
Sickening! @BubbaWallace my brother! Know you don’t stand alone! I’m right here with you as well as every other athlete. I just want to continue to say how proud I am of you for continuing to take a stand for change here in America and sports! @NASCAR I salute you as well! 🙏🏾✊🏾👑 https://t.co/1TwkjVHai5
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 22, 2020
LeBron made sure to let Wallace know that while he might be NASCAR’s lone Black driver, he has plenty of support from athletes across all sports fighting for the same kind of change, and that James and others are proud of how he’s standing up for what is right. It is, as LeBron noted, “sickening” that someone would place a noose in Wallace’s garage stall, but hopefully NASCAR is able to quickly complete its investigation and root out whoever committed such a heinous act.