The FBI is to take no action after a noose was found in the garage of Bubba Wallace, the only black driver in the elite NASCAR cup series. Instead, they maintain that the piece of a rope found in the garage at the Talledega track in Alabama was a handle that had been there since last autumn.
Wallace though is sticking to his version of events.
There was outrage around the world when the story first broke on Monday. Watson had been an advocate for the removal of the Confederate flag from NASCAR tracks and facilities, which has become a deeply divisive symbol during the Black Lives Matter campaign.
The flag, which commemorates the 11 states that ceded from the Union in the United States in the 19th century over the issue of slavery, is regarded by some as a mark of their southern heritage. However, it has also been hijacked by white supremacists in recent years, and, in 2016, the House of Representatives ruled that it could no longer be flown at the cemeteries of military veterans. A number of major retailers also stopped selling it.
The race in Talledega in the deep south of America, was regarded as the first acid test of the new NASCAR policy. There had been isolated protests over the weekend, with cars and pick-up trucks on nearby roads driving round with the flag clearly demonstrated. However, the noose in Watson’s garage appeared to up the ante.
In a gesture of solidarity, all the other drivers in the race pushed his car to the front of the grid, with crew members assisting them, prompting an emotional Wallace to get out of his car and sob.
However, now the FBI claims to have uncovered irrefutable evidence that the rope found in his garage had been there since last October at least, and that it was actually a door handle and not a noose.
NASCAR has said that they were glad it was not a racist act, but Wallace is not convinced, saying what he saw was not a door handle. And it does not take way from the fact that he has been the subject of vicious online attack on social media for his opposition to the flag.
This story is by no means finished.