Someone left a noose in Black NASCAR racer Bubba Wallace's garage stall, the US racing league announced on Sunday evening.
It comes after the motorsports series banned the display of Confederate flags at its events, an issue that Wallace was vocally supportive of after the death of George Floyd and the eruption of Black Lives Matter protests.
Wallace is the only Black driver who races full time in the top Cup series.
"Late this afternoon, NASCAR was made aware that a noose was found in the garage stall of the #43 team," the stock car series said in a statement.
"We are angry and outraged and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act. We have launched an immediate investigation and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport.
"As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all."
Wallace said in a statement posted on Twitter that he was "incredibly saddened" by the "despicable act of racism."
"This will not break me," Wallace said. "I will not give in, nor will I back down."
Some elements of the league's fan base voiced discontent with the ban on displaying the Confederate flag on NASCAR properties, which was not an uncommon sight at races in the past.
At Talladega in Alabama, where Sunday's incident happened, 5,000 fans were allowed in and no flags were spotted in the stands. However, cars and pickup trucks flew the flag outside the venue and a small plane flew overhead dragging a banner with the flag and the words "Defund NASCAR."
NASCAR executive vice president Steve O'Donnell condemned the display, posting a stock image of Black and white hands clasped.
"You won't see a photo of a jackass flying a flag over the track here," O'Donnell wrote. "But you will see this... Hope EVERYONE enjoys the race today."
aw/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)