Race Weekend Central

Did You Notice?: NASCAR Bumbles Bubba Wallace, #BlackLivesMatter Moment

Did You Notice? … The noose supposedly put in Bubba Wallace’s No. 43 garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway this past weekend wasn’t placed there by someone after all?

It had been sitting in the garage area the whole time. Since sometime in 2019, in fact.

“The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall,” NASCAR explained in a statement Tuesday (June 23). “This was obviously well before the No. 43 team’s arrival and garage assignment. We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba.”

That’s it. No hate crime. No NASCAR insider threatening to lynch the sport’s only full-time African-American driver. Turns out there’s nothing to see here after all.

Wait a minute. What?

48 hours of thinking Wallace was being attacked? A story that became so large and caused such intense emotion that 82-year-old Richard Petty was rushed from North Carolina, risking COVID-19 for a rain-delayed GEICO 500? One that created an amazing moment of driver solidarity, no doubt, in which the other 39 drivers in the field helped push Wallace’s car to the front of the starting grid?

It was a story so controversial, Monday’s audience bested the Homestead-Miami Speedway race run the Sunday before. It was the most-watched race on a Monday since 2014; viewership (well over three million) was 118% larger than another rain-delayed event here last fall. The garage and the industry galvanized behind Wallace, culminating in a pre-race kumbaya photo retweeted almost 90,000 times.

It’s clear Tuesday night, after a rushed oopsies NASCAR press conference, is they want you to take that moment and run with it. It’s whoops, nothing to see here, but look at all the good that came out of the sport coming together to fight racism.

“For us at NASCAR, this is the best result we could hope for,” NASCAR President Steve Phelps said on Tuesday in a teleconference. “It was disturbing to hear that it was thought that one of our own had committed this heinous act. It is fantastic to hear from the FBI definitively that there was not a hate crime.”

And it was a failure of epic proportions that a pulldown rope became the sport’s national crisis.

Before holding the sport’s feet to the fire, we should stop here and acknowledge the good. It’s a relief there was no hate crime was committed after all. The made-for-TV moment Monday was genuine, an organic show of support by a driving corps with a newfound passion for social justice. Leadership is truly trying to push past NASCAR’s complicated history with race.

I feel the worst for Wallace. At the end of the day, he’s taking heat for decisions he wasn’t responsible for. It wasn’t his choice to ban the Confederate flag; NASCAR did that. It wasn’t him reporting a noose in his garage stall Sunday afternoon; Steve Phelps did that.

In fact, Tuesday night on CNN, Wallace explained Phelps did so with “tears running down his face.” The driver was called before dinner Sunday at Talladega, then met with Phelps in person which is the first time he learned about the incident.

“The [No. 43] crew member … looked and saw the noose,” Phelps said. “Brought it to the attention of his crew chief, who then went to the NASCAR series director Jay Fabian, and we launched this investigation.”

It’s the latest in a series of incidents Wallace has been forced to react to, a weird combination of offense and defense. In the end, he will get unnecessary criticism for a situation completely out of his control. And trust me … the anger is being misdirected already. A quick look at his Twitter feed is all it takes, Wallace quick to admit to CNN’s Don Lemon he was “pissed” after looking at social media.

“This will not break me,” Wallace said on Tuesday night. “That only fuels the competitive drive in me to shut everybody up and show everybody what I can do behind the wheel.”

Hopefully, the driver can put this mess behind him and move on. But after what we’ve all just witnessed, that’s going to be incredibly difficult as this story is just getting started. Ripple effects are underway.

Imagine, for a moment, you’re a major NASCAR sponsor. Your marketing budget is likely slashed due to COVID-19; you’re making tough choices about who and what you support come 2021. You’re also balancing a deadly virus and the social justice movements that are revolutionizing corporations around the country.

NASCAR’s initial response is to ban the Confederate flag, following through on an initial 2015 pledge by Brian France. That infuriates a group of fans who staunchly believe the flag is part of their southern heritage. They’re so incensed, they fly a plane overhead at Talladega with the words “Defund NASCAR” attached to a giant flag.

Not a good look for some companies, right? But wait. The move also attracts a brand new group of people interested in the sport. The #BlackLivesMatter movement turns their attention to NASCAR … only to find a noose has been hung in the garage stall of the sport’s only African-American driver. For 48 hours, they’re swept up in a national storyline as Wallace is passionately supported by all his competitors. Restrictions on the garage are such no one but another team member or NASCAR official could have “planted it there.” The storyline of racism among them runs rampant.

Except the FBI (remember, not just NASCAR was involved here) determined the noose was perfectly innocent, positioned there since last fall. This crisis, occurring just days before an unpopular ban, became the equivalent of a Good Samaritan panic attack. It’s a Scooby Doo whodunit with no actual crime.

And that’s the best-case scenario. For those concerned the whole incident was staged, for whatever reason, their concerns have been given credibility. The storyline everyone in NASCAR fed into now appears manufactured; leadership ran with it before they had all the facts. The end result leaves even supporters with a sour taste and a large portion of the industry feeling like … how do the kids say it these days?

They feel played.

If you’re a sponsor, watching this mess, are you more likely to spend your money with NASCAR? Or are there other, less controversial, ways to spend your time and cash? With sports, events, entertainment that already has the diversity you seek, minus the drama?

Count me among those disappointed in how the last 24 hours have turned out. As someone personally supportive of NASCAR’s new, progressive stance, what I thought happened Monday with Wallace was incredible. It’s the type of grassroots support that can lead to permanent change. It’s also a moment, knowing NASCAR’s history, I thought I’d never see.

But now all that was for … a hate crime that wasn’t? For a rope that we’ll now debate until the cows come home whether it was actually a noose? Pulldown rope or not, it sure feels like the wool was pulled over NASCAR’s eyes.

Emotion got the better of leadership, clearly, and Phelps is paying the price. A strong first two years of leadership is now under fire and the criticism is deserved. He’ll survive it, but many more questions need to be answered.

I’d have loved to ask those questions, among others, but NASCAR ran from any Q&A session following Phelps statement Tuesday night via teleconference. They’re continuing their own investigation, understandable to an extent, but also a bad look when the law enforcement portion of this mess, the FBI, already completed theirs. No, Tuesday wasn’t Phelps’ finest hour, and I expect the reaction will get worse before it gets better.

The best thing NASCAR could do now, honestly, is refocus on what the word race is supposed to mean for them. Monday’s GEICO 500 was one of the best superspeedway events in the last 10 years. It had a photo finish, cars spinning across the line, and stand-up, get-out-of-your-seat racing from the drop of the green flag.

But no one will remember that now. Instead, Talladega 2020 will be remembered for the hate crime that wasn’t. A Confederate flag ban and all the politics and drama surrounding it. That’s a dangerous place to be for a sport that, at its core, is supposed to be about entertainment and relieving the stress of day-to-day life. Not causing it.

The following is an actual email I got Tuesday morning from a reader. They unsubscribed from our NASCAR Newsletter.

Great content. Unfortunately, where I used to watch NASCAR in order to get away from politics and the real world for a few hours, it appears that I can no longer do so.
So I’m kissing all things NASCAR goodbye.
I fear he’s far from the only one after Tuesday night.

About the author

The author of Did You Notice? (Wednesdays) Tom spends his time overseeing Frontstretch’s 40+ staff members as its majority owner and Editor-in-Chief. Based outside Philadelphia, Bowles is a two-time Emmy winner in NASCAR television and has worked in racing production with FOX, TNT, and ESPN while appearing on-air for SIRIUS XM Radio and FOX Sports 1's former show, the Crowd Goes Wild. He most recently consulted with SRX Racing, helping manage cutting-edge technology and graphics that appeared on their CBS broadcasts during 2021 and 2022.

You can find Tom’s writing here, at CBSSports.com and Athlonsports.com, where he’s been an editorial consultant for the annual racing magazine for 15 years.

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Just stop with this BS! “Bubba” has FREE WILL as all of us do! “Bubba” chose (imo) for selfish and attention seeking reasons to jump on the bandwagon lie and ride it hard! He is doubling down as we type with bullshit.

He is not to be praised or excused, he should be condemned as well as NASCAR! The only thing “BUBBA” is a victim of is his insane need for attention and the lack of balls to do the right thing, admit his shortcomings in this diabolical act and flaming and aiding the already huge bonfire. IMO! He hasn’t the skill (imo) to do his talking, so he embraces the tried and true “racist” route to get the attention he craves, again my opinion. Wasn’t he whining for attention a few months ago…a vid about him, him, him, his depression etc???? Insanity!

Nope NASCAR and he will suffer not a bit for this, I believe they should….

“Bubba” is not the victim, I doubt this got as big at it is without his input. And if that was the case, why today after the nonsense was exposed is he still doubling down that this was in a fact a “noose”? Shame on him and NASCAR.


Obviously facts don’t matter…and Nascar has a LONG way to go.


Bubba, you got your 15 min of fame in a way that your driving never would have given you. Let the rest of us get back to enjoying what was a great American sport before you threw politics into it.


I totally agree

Kris Roberds

Amazing! Bubba a second rate driver that has brought nothing but dishonesty, distrust and shame; not just to him but to NASCAR and “all Americans”. He is a low life and his actions are despicable.

However, the unbelievable actions of Phillips and the entire NASCAR drivers are deplorable. We are ashamed that their rush to jump on the Black Lives Matter band wagon, has damaged the wholesome image of this American Sport. In total disregard for the truth they were thinking only of themselves and their own image. In retrospect, what do you all think of your images now? If you are not ashamed you should be.

All of NASCAR is guilty of the assumptions that just because he’s Black, then Bubba’s claim must be true. OMG. NASCAR must be so desperate for recognition and to prove they are the good guys they forgot to take a step back and breath. Ah-h-h, so hey guys, how’s that working out for you; Can you breath now?


So far we have over a hundred people who are no longer going to have anything to do with NASCAR!

Mark Stowell

Two things not yet commented on;
What will this cost NASCAR in sponsorships?
And is this the harbinger of the next #MeToo movement?
Bet in the next few weeks we see tons of black athletes and other celebrities coming forward “bravely” to recount similar “victimizations”.

Al cibelli

I can’t blame Bubba for starting the incident but he was very eager to go on every TV shows available to him before the facts were in and appeared very happy about all the attention he was getting.


Wallace is a no tallent lier who will get more attention for this than he ever will on the track. As far as im concerned nas car is done piss on steve phelps

Fed Up

Time to do away with NA$CAR’s public relations math and maybe educate the writers who don’t comprehend it. 100% of a number it that number. 118% of a number is an 18% increase. The Kool Aid is flowing.

your mother

They said 118% INCREASE. If the viewership was “well over 3 million” as stated in the article, then a 118% increase would mean there were roughly 1.5 million viewers for the reference race last fall.

If you have 50 cents, and you get another 50 cents, you now have a dollar. You have doubled your money, or had a 100% increase. If you start with 50 cents and get $1.09, or 59 cents more, you have a 118% increase.

You’re welcome.

Fed Up

It states the attendance was 118% “larger” not a 118% increase. That would be 1.18 x the original number. YOU are welcome!


Bubba now disagrees with some of the FBI’s findings. OMG! This guy just won’t STFU!!!
I’m an disgusted by this entire affair and am repulsed by his attitude. What a disgrace.. Nascar is famous for its racing yet this bum seems to be starved for attention and is a truly unfortunate distraction.


It’s hard for a no talent attention whore to leave the sudden limelight.


Last night Tucker Carlson referred to the guys who run Nascar as morons. I certainly will not disagree with that astute observation. Bring back drunk Brian! Lol

Scott Richardson

So you want us to feel sorry for Bubba? Sorry, but he AND NASCAR completely played this entire thing to their advantage.

When his crew member reported this, how does someone not immediately go over to view it and confirm what it is before reporting it to authorities and eventually getting the FBI involved? How many taxpayer dollars were wasted by NASCAR for this investigation?

Bubba is fighting to keep his driving position and he tried to use this to his advantage. Right now, if Petty tries to get rid of him at year-end, then he will be allowed to yell racism again. He is nothing but the Colin Kaepernick of NASCAR.

This was a complete made-for-tv sham orchestrated by Bubba and NASCAR. I don’t believe that the actions by all the crews on Monday was genuine and that it was ordered by NASCAR to get them TV time on all of the networks.

Mark Stowell

Reporting to CNN for attention and solution is like sending in a social worker on a murder case.


Don’t be surprised if Bubba throws in the towel with racing and joins CNN as a commentator or political “analyst”
Please just leave the rest of us to enjoy racing without his political nonsense and attention seeking BS


Anybody that continues to waste their time supporting this clown circus is a fool! This ain’t about the racing anymore it has turned into a fake reality show to teach white people morality. WWE isn’t even this dumb.

Al Torney

The bottom line line in all of this bull$hit is that it all reinforced the public’s view that NASCAR is a and has been a racist organization. When the guys like Joy, Gordon, McReynolds etc. make statements like it was a long time coming to ban the flag it infers it. If that were the case why didn’t they say something years ago. Why? I’ll tell you why. They didn’t give a shit. Now their on the PC band wagon. Has there been racism in NASCAR? Sure but no more then any other sport. Here’s a tidbit for you. NASCAR had black drivers, Charlie Scott and Wendell Scott, before the Washington Redskins got their first black player, Bobby Mitchell, in 1961.
I’m delighted the rope was not a noose. I like many others believed it wasn’t true in the first place. NASCAR should have kept it down until all of the facts were in but no they desire for media attention was to great. Well they got it and now loo’ like court jesters.
Same goes for the flag. Had that not been made to go to the national media there would have been no protest and flying flag at Talladega that reinforced that the sport is racist.
Don’t be surprised if there aren’t BLM protests at nascar events in the future demanding more black participation.

Ed C

NASCAR is continuing with it’s own investigation of the incident and O J is still looking for the real killer.


Ed C….LMAO !!! ?

WJW Motorsports

The good news here is these people tend to have very short attention spans from their steady diet of Twitter and other social media. Some other fake act of social injustice will replace this one shortly.


Sports used to be our escape from politics and controversial subjects. Tiger Woods, Arthur Ash, and Michael Jordan were absolute #1 figures in their sports, but respected their sports and didn’t use their high plateau to push an agenda. But Bubba Ah….

Carl D.

I’m just going to say it… some Frontstretch writers jumped to conclusions without all the facts. In doing so, they took a giant dump on their soapbox. I have been reading Fronstretch for many, many years, but the moral outrage expressed by certain writers before all the facts were known is very disappointing. You have egg on your face too, Frontstretch.


The hate for Bubba is completely unwarranted and, sadly, reinforces the stereotype of (some) NASCAR fans. His driver’s record is irrelevant to the discussion. Remember, Bubba had no idea about this before NASCAR told him. No opportunity to personally verify. At that point he was along for the ride, a passenger on the NASCAR/media hype train, and his unique perspective and profile in the sport put him directly in the eye if that storm. His team obviously read too much into this and tried to protect the driver by going to NASCAR first. At least the FBI proved the (non) intent, otherwise NASCAR and the national media would still be riding this.


So Bubba was just an innocent no-fault victim in all this???!!! You’re kidding right??

BTW the media over at Yahoo is still riding this horse!

WJW Motorsports

His driving record is absolutely relevant, because if he was of a different (non-protected) background he’d at best be driving in the truck series. And as far as his role – yes – great plan – allow oneself to be put into the center of the political maelstrom without doing so much as say, heading down to the garage and looking up at doors? Absurd.

Bill H

When Bubba was told, his response could have been to insist that it be played down in the media. When the other drivers wanted to make a display, he could have said no. He could have taken the position that, “I don’t want to be NASCAR’s only black driver, I just want to be the best driver I can be.” He didn’t do that. He agreed to make himself the center of attention over something that didn’t happen.

Ken Smith

But Bubba is the one who went on ABC News and insinuated that I – along with many, many other NA$CRAP fans – were “simple-minded”, due to the fact that they were skeptical when they first heard about this.


How do you know bubba had no knowledge of this until Nascar told him !! Exactly, you don’t.

Bill B

OK it’s time to turn the page on this. Someone should lose their job over the fake report of a noose to begin with. Bubba is starting to go down the road of being hooked on media attention. BLM is nothing but an angry mob that needs to be put down. All this BS is pissing me off. I wasn’t anti-black before but if this continues I damn well will be. If I see one more monument torn down without due process I will support opening fire on the angry mob. It’s time to crack some heads.


Bill B – you tell them sir. i said last week i was over all this. i’m waiting for them to sand blast the figures off stone mountain here in ga. what’s next, mt. rushmore?

Carl D.

The Governor of SD already addressed Mt. Rushmore… It won’t happen on her watch.


Nice perspective, Tom. The person who fouled the whole thing up is Phelps, who has proven again he is not capable, mentally or otherwise, to lead a multi-billion, soon to be multi-million, sport NASCAR. I’ve been in the room when they came to pitch major sponsors and when it’s over, hear the ridicule of the dog and pony show. Sad because I am a fan.
The loser here is Wallace. He got caught up in the moment. Obviously spoiled since birth, he tried to capitalize on the moment, but when he went on Don Lemon’s show, he tanked with me. This, sadly, will one day, when the post-mortum of modern NASCAR is discussed, will be one of the many straws that broke the camel’s back.
You can’t run a business with Goober Pyle involved in running it. The TV contracts will not be as lucrative, fewer sponsor dollars are available. Electric cars in the offering.
Here’s the other thing, NASCAR finds themselves in another paradoxical situation. They have to get Golden Boy into the Championship 4, need Wallace to win a race, and now are under more of a microscope with gambling overseeing the fairness of the racing. The walls will close in.

The good is crews and personnel are not racist. An honest interpretation by a naturally aware crew member should be noted, the FBI cleared the sport, and now go on to Pocono. Someone needs to tell Darrell Wallace to do the same.


i just thought of something………if the rope was at ‘dega in 2019……..and probably before……why wasn’t bubba traumatized then?

oh yeah, 2020 year of craziness.


2 articles articulating the abject stupidity of blm nazis, woke crybabies, their nascar/corporate enablers, and of course, the no-talent hack Bubba.




So now we can say no noose is good noose?


It was just fake noose…..

Bill H

Steve Phelps cooked this up from the beginning. He was in trouble from the flag ban. NASCAR banned the Confederate flag in 2015, but immediately realized they could not enforce it without losing a large number of fans. Bubba Wallace extorted them into issuing a new ban, which backfired. The airplane overhead and a parade of trucks outside the track, flying the flag and protesting the ban, at the first race attended by fans.

So when the rope was brought to him, instead of using his head and saying, “Oh, heck, that’s a garage door pull,” he saw a way for NASCAR to get in on the “We support Black Lives Matter” bendwagon. You think all that was spontaneous? It was not.


NASCAR, Bubba, RPM were all bleeding this as much as they could. It was the next uh ha moment they were all looking for to lure/attract their new untapped fan base of progressive liberals, with the flag debacle being used as the foundation. Well after doubling down on CNN on something that just didn’t exist, NASCAR can forget about the 1/2 dozen or so of the new fans they collected as they will off looking for something else to get offended about. They can also forget about the majority of their fan base, the die hard race fans that were sticking with NASCAR that enjoyed racing period. Now that they’ve seen what’s left of their sport being weaponized and politicized into attacks against them, this debacle could very well be the end of NASCAR. As for this former fan of 50 years, this was the end for me. NASCAR with their endless bureaucracy ruined the race long ago. With all the greats long gone and with NASCAR allowing controversial politics and a mediocre driver (Bubba) as fodder to increase their ever dwindling fan base, I’m done. It was a good show while it lasted but now it’s just another political forum with some racing added as an afterthought.


you know is this new untapped fan base going to be able to afford a weekend away from home (if this virus ever lifts the cautions)? typically front stretch seats are over $100/person. i know the tracks will have deals and whatnot, but they can’t bleed red ink for long.

i also don’t see them being longstanding fans either. some of us here have been fans since the 1960’s.

oh well, welcome to the “new normal”.


Janice, wouldn’t it be unfair to actually charge all these “new” fans? Let them in free, sort of a reparations payment. The socialist system new normal says more free stuff! NOOSECAR can certainly embrace that….

Dave Maxson

U are so right ..this is the last straw for me..ban the rebel flag the fill the fence with people wearing black lives matter shirts and Bubba putting on a racist show? It’s all a scam Nascar is done turn out the lights its over

rc primak

This is what a garage door pull rope looks like:

This is what a dog training leash with a loop looks like:

Which one has the “noose”?

I smell a whitewash here!

William Ashbless

Those tie ropes are quite common at the facility and have been long before they were recently ‘discovered’. Every single driver and crew member would have seen them on a daily basis and knew exactly what they are and used for.
This was not overreacting. This was a stunt perpetrated on the viewing public.

Not one of those idiots stood up and declined to participate in what was clearly a charade for the television audience.

It’s acceptable to stoke the racial divide in this country as long as it suits NASCAR’s agenda.

That’s good to know.

Closing words:

And the horse you rode in on……


Great article and well written. There is plenty of egg on the face to go around with this one. I have used the supposed “noose” type of knot as a mechanic, as a sailor, and even in hunting and fishing. You can tie a simple taut-line hitch or a bowline knot and upside down it resembles a noose. Walk into any Pep-Boys garage and look at their pull ropes and I’ll bet you find at least one of them tied in this fashion. For Bubba (and for that matter anyone in the garage) to say they have never seen this type of pull rope is being disingenuous, in the least. I am a fan;have been for over 45 years. But, I think I need a break from NASCAR. Too much political nonsense going on. If I was a sponsor, at this point, I think I’d take my money and go elsewhere.

David Russell Edwards

I think that believing that this is all about Wallace, or a “noose” or any of those issues, is overlooking the obvious. The times have changed, history will decide whether for better or worse, and Nascar and its participants are having to change with it. Will there be an influx of new fans? No I don’t think so but maybe there wont be an exodus of the sponsors and manufacturers and even TV, whose money is the lifeblood of the sport.

Could it have been handled better? Absolutely. But that would have probably been too much to ask.

Mizzou Fan

Y’all are a bunch of thin skinned whiners… Questions: 1. How did Bubba see the “noose” since drivers must go straight to their motorcoaches until called to pit road for the start of the race? 2. If Bubba didn’t see the “noose” how could he have reported it? 3. If he didn’t report it, who did? 4. Who led the whole “rally ‘round Bubba thing? (Answer: Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick). 5. Does your outrage make you feel better?

Brian In PDX

You didn’t really research this much did you?

Mizzou Fan

Brian, why do you ask that? Could it be because I don’t have the same opinion you have?


It was very clearly stated when this all happened that a crew member found the alleged noose and took it to NASCAR leadership which in turn results in the FBI launching an investigation into how it got there.

Turned out to be a garage pull down rope.

Is it a bit of an over-reaction in hindsight? Sure – but it looked close enough to a noose for the FBI to get involved and launch an investigation. The FBI doesn’t just get involved in every small time common sense investigation.

Bill B

RE: “The FBI doesn’t just get involved in every small time common sense investigation.”

Apparently, they do.


I just watched Bubba on First Take. He’s making the rounds. I see a book/movie package in the offing with him of course starring as himself, since no one else could play him as well. But first he has to host SNL.

Don in Connecticut

Sad to see NASCAR jumping on the “racist
under every bed” bandwagon. Oh well, the TV
contacts are up in a few years. NASCAR will
be about as popular as curling by 2025.


No matter NASCAR’s intentions, they jumped the start from the very outset. Perhaps if they simply stated that ‘We were made aware of a possible incident of intimidation involving the 43 team and Bubba Wallace and will do a thorough investigation to determine facts. Once we have done so, we will announce the results of that investigation’.
If they felt compelled to show their concern against racism, they might have said:
‘If it was racist in nature, we will take firm irrevocable action against any and all parties involved. What action has to be guided by the outcome of the investigation”
The way that they jumped to conclusions should be an embarrassment to them.


The majority of the comments here show just how long a road Nascar has to go before they get rid of the good ol’ boy racist reputation. It may not be as inaccurate as some would hope.

Letty B

When this all blows over, Bubba can go back to demanding respect, throwing water in other drivers faces, wrecking champions, deliberately spinning to bring a caution and bragging about it, crying on camera, and finishing 25th.



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