Bubba Wallace quite suddenly has become NASCAR’s most visible driver. He is the only top-tier African-American driver in the racing circuit.
It was thought for a few days that someone had hung a noose in his garage at the track in Talledaga, Ala., spurring outrage among drivers, their owners, many fans and politicians. Then we hear from the FBI that the noose had been in the garage since October 2019, well before Wallace and his crew took up space in the garage stall.
He had made his mark by calling for the removal of Confederate flags at NASCAR events. NASCAR heard him and took down the flags, which themselves in the eyes of many of us are symbols of hate, oppression and treason.
No hate crime has been committed, said the FBI.
NASCAR showed its love and respect for Wallace prior to the race the other day in Talledaga. Drivers and their crews escorted Wallace’s No. 43 car to the front of the line. The race started and Wallace led several laps before finishing in 14th place.
Wallace said he won’t be silenced by any threats. This particular threat apparently has been deemed a non-starter. The outcome of the FBI probe into what they found in that garage stall doesn’t diminish the message that a single driver sought to deliver about his sport. Yes, it was born in the South. Yes, too, the Confederate flag has been a key symbol at NASCAR events. Bubba Wallace simply has told us what many of us have known all along, that the symbol represents a dark and evil chapter in our nation’s history.
The young man deserves the love that has poured forth from his colleagues and from fans around the country.