There's outrage in Talladega after a noose was reportedly found in the garage stall of NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace on Sunday.
The emblem of hate directed against NASCAR's only fulltime black driver in the elite Cup Series created shockwaves in the racing community. It came less than two weeks after the 26-year-old Wallace – who drives for Richard Petty Motorsports – succeeded in pushing the stock car racing series to ban the Confederate flag at all of its events.
ESPN's Marty Smith had a hard time with the seeming regression.
"Something like this happens in the garage area of Richard Petty's racecar?" Smith asked incredulously during a SportsCenter broadcast. "For a young man in Bubba Wallace's position, who has galvanized so many people because he was willing to stand for something that is so long overdue – and NASCAR's current executive leader agrees that it's time to take this stand – and then somebody goes and does this? …
"You're hurting a lot of people who have made the decision that it's … time to go be better," he concluded.
NASCAR released a statement saying it is launching a full investigation into what it describes as a "heinous act," adding: "This act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all."
On Twitter, Wallace described the incident as a "despicable act of racism and hatred" that does not scare him but leaves him "incredibly saddened." Reportedly Wallace never saw the noose himself.