NASCAR, the Noose, and the Politics of Race

The Story: 

On June 23, the Federal Bureau of Investigation concluded that Bubba Watson was not the target of a hate crime. This was just two days after reports that somebody had left a noose in his garage stall at the Talledega Superspeedway. (A noose was of course the weapon of choice for many old-school lynchings of African Americans and continues to be employed by white supremacists as a non-verbal threat.)


Bubba Wallace is one of the most successful African-American drivers in the history of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), founded in 1948.

The report of the noose in his stall came soon after he had raced at Martinsville Speedway with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter painted on the side of his car.

The FBI, though, soon found that the noose was a pull-down rope on an overhead door that had been in place since October 2019. It was tied into the noose configuration months before anyone could have known that Wallace would use that stall.

The Thing to Know:

It remains unknown who tied the pull-down rope into the shape of a noose. That knotting was not used in any of the other overhead doors in Talladega. The incident may serve as a microcosm of the complexities and ambiguities that surround discussions of race in the US in the 21st century.

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