Sheriff investigating possible hate crime at Sonoma Raceway

Posted on June 23, 2020 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office is investigating as a possible hate crime the discovery of a noose hanging from a tree at an empty Sonoma Raceway, a NASCAR host site.

The incident came the same weekend as national attention focused on Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, where a noose was found in the garage of NASCAR’s only black driver, Bubba Wallace.

At the quiet Sonoma track, the suspected noose, tied in a quarter-inch rope, was found by employees at about 8 a.m. The tree branch was about 14 feet high, and appeared to well-worn be from being outside for a long time.

In fact, according to Sergeant Juan Valencia, a raceway tenant remembered seeing the rope hanging from the tree about 7 to 8 years ago after crashing a model airplane. But it was not tied in a noose at that time.

“We take this very seriously,” Steve Page, the track president, said via a staff email. “We know you share our goal of operating a facility that is open and welcoming to everyone and we appreciate your support in preventing hostile and offensive activities that violate that spirit.”

Violent Crimes detectives are looking through video surveillance footage for leads on a suspect, Valencia said.

“We are continuing to investigate this incident with the FBI and are committed to conducting a thorough investigation and trying to find the person(s) involved in this incident,” Valencia said. “We understand why this case is disturbing for many people. We take potential hate crimes very seriously and want everyone to feel safe in Sonoma County.”

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