An owner of a North Carolina racetrack is being criticized and losing business after he mocked stock car driver Bubba Wallace. NASCAR announced on June 21 that a noose was left in a garage for Wallace, who is Black, at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway earlier this month.
Mike Fulp, who owns 311 Speedway in Pine Hall, North Carolina, mentioned Wallace on Wednesday, June 24 in Facebook Marketplace.
“Buy your Bubba Rope today for only $9.99 each, they come with a lifetime warranty and work great,” read an ad, which was taken down the following day.
Many of Fulp’s followers slammed him afterward and said they will no longer visit his racetrack.
Driver series Carolina Sprint Tour also responded and announced that it would cancel all of the events they had scheduled at 311 Speedway this season.
“We do not condone nor support the comments and posts that have been made the past week,” their message read, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. “We will not put our sponsors, IMCA Racing, series, drivers, teams, owners, fans or families in a negative light such as what’s happened recently.
Loflin Concrete, a company located in Kernersville, N.C., was another company that responded to Fulp’s ad and told him they want all of their signage removed from his racetrack.
“Standing for what you believe is often different than being known for what you are against,” wrote Loflin Concrete on Friday, June 26. “Sometimes just being against something in principle or belief is just not enough. Words must lead to action sometimes. This is one of those times. We have cut all ties with 311 speedway.”
In addition to the rope ad, Fulp has been marketing a series of new races at his track on social media, with names like “America We Stand” and “Heritage Night.” At the latter event, he said that Confederate and Donald Trump flags would be sold.
Within days, Fulp would be striking a dramatically different tone from the one in his Facebook post.
In an interview about the fallout from the ad with the Greensboro News & Record newspaper — which reported that internet sleuths took screenshots of now-deleted Facebook comments from the track owner about George Floyd’s death and giving Blacks “a bucket of Kentucky Fried chicken, 2 watermelons and a plane ride back to Africa’’— the 55-year-old sounded disconsolate about losing sponsors, seeing his employees harassed and quitting, and getting death threats over his rope ”joke,” as he characterized it.
The News & Record described Fulp as apparently unable to understand how he’d arrived in his current fix:
“I’m not a racist,” he said. “I’m not a racist. I don’t know how they …”
His voice trailed off, and he broke down and cried in deep sobs for next 19 seconds.
Wallace, who’s NASCAR’s only Black full-time driver, spoke to NASCAR earlier this month about the offensive nature of Confederate flags being flown at their events. So the auto racing company banned them from at all of its venues.
Some believed the noose seen in Wallace’s garage was retaliation for getting the Confederate flag banned. But after a short investigation, the FBI determined the noose had been in the garage since at least October 2019 and said Wallace wasn’t the victim of a hate crime.
Wallace spoke about the FBI’s findings during an interview on CNN, Tuesday, June 23, and said he was upset about it.
“I’m mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that I am and my integrity,” he explained. “Whether tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose. So it wasn’t directed at me but somebody tied a noose. That’s what I’m saying.”
Wallace also posted a message about the investigation on Wednesday, June 24 on Instagram.
“It’s been an emotional few days,” he wrote. “First off, I want to say how relieved I am that the investigation revealed that this wasn’t what we feared it was.”