Moving video from the Geico 500 race shows hordes of Wallace’s peers, crew members and others pushing his car to the front of the grid at the Talladega Superspeedway.
Wallace, NASCAR’s only Black competitor, goes on to hug the drivers who stand beside him. Renowned driver Richard Petty, who co-owns the team for which Wallace drives, was also there for the momentous occasion.
It was the first time Petty attended a race since the spread of COVID-19.
In the stands, fans held up a sign reading “We support you, Bubba” with his number, 43, and the outline of a fist, raised in solidarity.
On the green turf, the hashtag #IStandWithBubba can be seen printed in bold, white letters.
The video gained popularity on Twitter following the discovery of a noose in Wallace’s garage stall before a race on Sunday in Alabama.
The incident happened less than two weeks after Wallace 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 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.