NASCAR employees will receive sensitivity training in the coming weeks after the discovery of a garage door pull tied into a noose was found in driver Bubba Wallace’s garage and triggered a national controversy, president Steve Phelps said on Thursday.
“We'll make any changes necessary to our sanctions and our code of conduct and we will mandate that all members of our industry complete sensitivity and unconscious bias training,” Phelps said during a press conference.
The NASCAR president said the exact timing and further details on the substance of the sensitivity training would be announced at a later date. The mandate was announced after the conclusion of NASCAR’s internal investigation into the circumstances behind the incident.
On Thursday, NASCAR released the first official photos of the noose found in Wallace’s garage at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama last weekend. FBI investigators announced earlier this week that the noose was a garage door pull that had been in place for months and that Wallace, the only black driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, was not the target of a hate crime.
Phelps acknowledged that he “should have used the word ‘alleged’” in NASCAR’s initial statement, which referred to the noose as a “heinous act.” NASCAR said that its internal investigation uncovered just one rope resembling a noose across 1,684 garage stalls at 29 tracks in use on the circuit.
“As you can see from the photo, the noose was real, as was our concern for Bubba,” Phelps said. “With similar emotion, others across our industry and our media stood up to defend the NASCAR family. Our NASCAR family. Because they are part of the NASCAR family, too. We are proud to see so many stand up for what’s right.”
Wallace thanked the FBI and NASCAR officials for treating the situation as a “real threat” and expressed relief that it wasn’t a hate crime. The 26-year-old driver had successfully petitioned NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag at its tracks just days before the noose was discovered, raising fears that the incident was racially motivated.
Phelps said he was “not sure” why no one else at NASCAR had expressed concern about the noose if it had been in place since last October.
“I will go back to the idea that our industry, all of our employees in our industry broadly need to go through sensitivity and bias conscious training,” Phelps said. “It's an important thing to do because I'm sure some ‑‑ I'm not sure; odds are that someone saw it and didn't react negatively to it. So we need to make sure that doesn't happen in the future.”