Opinion: Bubba Wallace noose incident leaves stain on the sport

I’m not sure I’ve lived through a more despicable act in our sport than what happened to NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace at Talladega.

Opinion: Bubba Wallace noose incident leaves stain on the sport

Placing a noose in his garage stall is a flagrant act of racism and hatred that was clearly aimed to literally terrorize the only Black driver in NASCAR’s top level. It’s like something that you’d expect from the bad old days of racial segregation – and that clearly belongs in the history books, not the NASCAR garage.

Whoever did this wretched stunt has no place in our sport, and I hope NASCAR tracks down the perpetrator and bans them for life. We’ve been told the FBI are now on the property in Talladega, so that should aid the investigation.

It feels like society has come a long way in terms of equality in recent years, but clearly nowhere near far enough. Something like this can’t be allowed to drag us backwards to bleaker times. Equally, it cannot be ignored.

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That it happened in the driver's home state makes this attack even more personal. Each week, Wallace goes out there, representing Alabama, and this is the treatment he receives when he gets back to compete in front of his local fans? I welcome the apology from the state governor, who must feel ashamed of what’s happened, and she’s right to acknowledge the “mark this leaves on our state”.

Wallace should be applauded for highlighting the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and to me he’s a great example of what diversity does for a sport. It opens up avenues for a new audience to get interested and involved. That can only be a good thing.

As Bubba himself said a few weeks ago: “Our sport has had somewhat of a racist label to it. NASCAR… everybody thinks redneck, confederate flag, racist – and I hate that. I know NASCAR is so much more.”

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If there’s anything positive to come out of this heinous episode, it’s to reinforce the point that NASCAR is on the right track with its ban on the Confederate flag. But it clearly now needs to work even harder to eradicate any odious racist element from racing, and thus amplify the message to help society at large.

Who wants a sport where fans – and even its participants – feel excluded on the grounds of their race?

We should all stand with Bubba, now more than ever.

Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro and a NASCAR official

Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro and a NASCAR official

Photo by: NASCAR Media

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