In an extraordinary act of solidarity with NASCAR’s only black driver, dozens of drivers pushed the car belonging to Bubba Wallace to the front of the field before Monday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
Meanwhile, FBI agents nearby tried to find out who left a noose in Wallace’s garage stall at the weekend.
The stock car series was left reeling and angered by the racist act that came less than two weeks after it banned the Confederate flag on its properties at Wallace’s urging.
On Monday, the 26-year-old Wallace was surrounded by all 39 other drivers in the moments before the race. They were joined by their crews in a march down pit road as they pushed Wallace’s No.43 car to the front of the line.
After that, the driver climbed out of his car and wept.
It was a stirring move to support Wallace at a track in the heart of the south, where flags have flown for decades and were seen outside the speedway throughout the weekend weekend long carried and wave by fans opposed to NASCAR’s ban.
In a further show of support, Richard Petty, the 82-year-old Hall of Fame driver known as “The King”, stood alongside Wallace for the national anthem.
Wallace drives for Petty, who issued a scathing rebuke after the noose was found.
He called for the “sick person” to be expelled from NASCAR forever – a move NASCAR president Steve Phelps insisted would happen should they be caught.
The race on Monday, which was delayed a day by rain, was won by Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
However, of the few fans in the stands on Monday, Luke Johnson said he was against the flag ban.
“All the NASCAR tracks need to keep on flying them,” he said.
As for the noose left for Wallace, he said: “I thought it was funny myself.”
Another fan, Robert Chaisson, said he didn’t have a strong opinion on the flag ban but he certainly did on what happened to Wallace.
“That was messed up. I hope they charge that guy with a hate crime,” Mr Chaisson said.