The incident happened less than two weeks after Wallace, NASCAR’s only Black athlete, called for the removal of Confederate flags from racetracks.
“Late this afternoon, NASCAR was made aware that a noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team. We are angry and outraged and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act,” the organization’s statement reads. “We have launched an immediate investigation and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport.
“As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all.”
Wallace, 26, released a statement on Sunday regarding the incident.
“Today’s despicable act of racism and hatred leave 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,” he wrote. “Together, our sport has made a commitment to driving real change and championing a community that is accepting and welcoming of everyone.
“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,” he continued. “I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in.”
Former professional stock car racing driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. spoke out about the investigation on Twitter.
“I don’t worry about our sport,” he wrote. “I have confidence NASCAR’s leadership will find who did this and continue pushing us in the right direction. I do worry about Bubba. I hope Bubba is feeling loved and supported.”
The Sunday race at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway was the first since the car-racing organization banned the Confederate flag, a move that followed global anti-Black racism protests in the wake of George Floyd‘s death.
The noose symbolizes racism, violence and terror against Black people, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s website.
“Its origins are connected to the history of lynching in America, particularly in the South after the Civil War, when violence or threat of violence replaced slavery as one of the main forms of social control that whites used on African-Americans,” the website states.
A recent Equal Justice Initiative report notes that more than 6,500 racial terror lynchings took place in the U.S. between 1865 and 1950 following the end of the American Civil War.
The incident follows at least four cases of Black people being found dead by hanging in the United States in the past month.
In California, Malcolm Harsch, a 38-year-old Black man, was found on May 31 in Victorville. Just 72 kilometres away in Palmdale, the body of 24-year-old Robert Fuller was discovered on June 10.
A day before Fuller was found, Dominique Alexander, 27, was discovered in the same manner in Fort Tryon Park in upper Manhattan, N.Y.
“Everything that they’ve been telling us has not been right. My brother was not suicidal,” Diamond Alexander, Fuller’s sister, said at a rally on June 13, per the BBC.
“We are really just trying to get more answers as to what happened,” Harmonie Harsch, Harsch’s sister, said in a TV interview recently. “My brother was so loving, not only to his family but even strangers. It is not like him.”
In a statement to the Associated Press, the FBI, U.S. attorney’s office in the Central District of California and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division said they were monitoring investigations by the Los Angeles and San Bernardino County sheriffs, whose offices have vowed to continue investigating the cases as potential homicides.