Bubba Wallace on Noose Found in Garage: 'You're Not Gonna Take Away My Smile'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2020

Driver Bubba Wallace walks to his car in the pits of the Talladega Superspeedway prior to the start of the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega Ala., Monday June 22, 2020. In an extraordinary act of solidarity with NASCAR’s only Black driver, dozens of drivers pushed the car belonging to Bubba Wallace to the front of the field before Monday’s race as FBI agents nearby tried to find out who left a noose in his garage stall over the weekend. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

Bubba Wallace isn't going to let racism and acts of hate stop him from smiling or fighting. 

NASCAR's only Black full-time driver embraced some of his supporters following Monday's Geico 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway and said, "The sport is changing ... Whoever it was, you're not gonna take away my smile" in reference to the noose that was found in his garage stall at the track Sunday.

It was not the only powerful moment involving Wallace on Monday.

The entire field of drivers who participated in the race pushed his No. 43 car to the front of the pack prior to the race in a message of unity and solidarity:

This comes after NASCAR released a statement Sunday saying it was investigating after a noose was found in his driver stall at Talladega. U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town also said the U.S. Attorney's office for the Northern District of Alabama, FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division are investigating.

"We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act," NASCAR's statement read. "We have launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport."

Wallace released a statement saying, in part, "We will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate":

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The 26-year-old has made national headlines of late as he fights against systemic racism and leads his sport forward. He told CNN's Don Lemon that NASCAR needed to ban Confederate flags, and the sport responded by doing that two days later.

"No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. It starts with Confederate flags," Wallace said. "Get them out of here. They have no place for them."

He also raced in a car with a Black Lives Matter paint scheme and has earned the support of many, including NBA star LeBron James:

As for Monday's race, Wallace finished 14th after hanging with the leaders before overtime, and Ryan Blaney defeated Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in a photo finish in overtime to clinch the win in dramatic fashion.

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