Racetrack loses sponsors over 'Bubba Wallace Rope' following noose incident

Guardian sport and agencies
The Guardian
<span>Photograph: Usa Today Uspw/USA Today Sports</span>
Photograph: Usa Today Uspw/USA Today Sports

A North Carolina racetrack has lost some partnerships after its owner advertised “Bubba Rope” for sale days after Nascar said a noose had been found in the garage stall of Bubba Wallace, the stock car series’ only full-time black driver.

A concrete company and a driver series ended their partnerships on Friday with the 311 Speedway in Stokes county, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.

The racetrack owner’s “Bubba Rope” post on Facebook Marketplace earlier this week sparked a backlash on social media. “Buy your Bubba Rope today for only $9.99 each, they come with a lifetime warranty and work great,” the post said.

The Carolina Sprint Tour posted on its Facebook page that it would not race at the speedway for the remainder of its season, according to the newspaper. “We do not condone nor support the comments and posts that have been made the past week,” the series said in a post online. A concrete company also said it was cutting all ties with the speedway.

The noose was found in Wallace’s team garage at Talladega last week, prompting an federal investigation. However, the FBI concluded the rope had been there since last fall and was not part of a hate crime. Since then, Wallace has been the subject of unfounded conspiracy theories that he was part of a plan to plant the noose.

“We’ll never shut them up. They’re afraid of themselves. They’re afraid of change,” Wallace said on Friday of those who had attacked him on social media. “Sometimes those are the people that you can’t help throughout all the chaos in the world. Those are the ones who need the most help. But you quickly realize they don’t give a damn about you and I don’t give a damn about them.”

Wallace also said on Friday that people have the right to peacefully protest against Nascar’s ban on the Confederate flag, but he suggested police may take a lighter touch than they have against anti-racism demonstrators.

Wallace successfully led a campaign to ban the Confederate flag from racetracks. The flag is widely seen as a racist symbol of the slave-owning south during the American civil war. However, since the ban came into effect there has been pushback, and a group of fans flew the flag outside the Talladega Superspeedway racetrack in Alabama last week.

“It’s their right for peaceful protest,” Wallace told reporters. “It’s part of it. But you won’t see them inside of the race tracks where we’re having a good time with the new fans that have purchased their tickets and purchased their favorite driver’s apparel. You won’t see it flying in there.”

Nascar’s ban came in the wake of a wave of anti-racism protests across American following the police killing of George Floyd last month. In one notable incident, law enforcement used teargas and horses to clear a group of protesters near the White House so Donald Trump could take part in a photo opportunity outside a local church. Wallace appeared to reference that incident when talking about protests against the Confederate flag ban.

Related: Nascar failed to fight racism for 72 years. Don't praise its support of Bubba Wallace yet

“Outside, they’re just going to be making a lot of noise. It’s part of it,” he said. “It’s exactly what you see on the flip side of everything going on in cities as they peacefully protest. But we won’t see cops pepper-spraying them and shooting them with rubber bullets, will you?”

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