Washington (AFP)

The FBI investigation opened after the discovery of a hanged rope on Sunday in the garage of Bubba Wallace in Talladega, Alabama, determined that the only black pilot holding in NASCAR had "not been the target" of a racist act, announced the American automobile championship Tuesday.

The FBI concluded, thanks to photographic evidence, that "the rope hung on the garage door in the shape of a noose had been placed there as early as last fall," NASCAR said in a statement.

"The investigation has proved, thanks to a video authenticated by NASCAR, that the knot was in garage number 4 as of October 2019," confirmed the American federal police, which had sent 15 agents to the Talladega circuit.

"We are grateful to the FBI for its prompt and thorough investigation and are pleased to learn that this was not an intentional racist act against Bubba," added Nascar.

The discovery on Sunday of this rope had caused a great stir, in a context of racial tensions in the United States. The hanged ropes are reminiscent of the lynchings targeting black populations in the United States during the slave and segregationist periods.

"It won't break me," said Bubba Wallace. "I will not give up, and I will not back down".

Federal authorities had taken up the matter.

- "Symbol of hate" -

The entire world of NASCAR, a sport popular among white conservatives in the American South, had supported Wallace, whose car had been pushed by the drivers to the start line before the race.

Two weeks ago, still in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, NASCAR had announced that it prohibited the Confederate flags, which one could find brandished in its races in the public.

Displaying this flag "goes against our commitment to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment" to fans and competitors, explained the organizing body of this automobile championship.

"It is a symbol of hatred, and it reminds me of so many bad memories. There is nothing good with this flag", had explained Bubba Wallace, 26 years, released from relative anonymity in recent weeks by expressing his indignation after the death of George Floyd. The latter died during his arrest by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25.

Before Wallace won a steering wheel in 2017, there had been no black driver in the category for eleven years. And there was only a handful after Wendell Scott, the first to race in NASCAR (1961-1973) and the only one to have won a victory, in 1963 in Jacksonville (Florida).

At 16, he joined NASCAR's "Drive for Diversity" program, which offers opportunities to drivers from minority backgrounds, and made his way to the elite, in the stable of the legendary Richard Petty. . Not without taking on the path of racist insults.

Flocked by the N.43, he finished second in the prestigious Daytona 500 in 2018. His best result to date.

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