Switching to virtual racing has allowed NASCAR drivers to compete in some fashion despite sports in general being shut down. But the silver lining also comes with a cloud or two. Bubba Wallace managed to lose one of his sponsorships by rage quitting during an iRacing event, and now Kyle Larson has got himself into serious hot water. It’s never a good sign when your competition’s sanctioning body says this about you:
NASCAR has made diversity and inclusion a priority and will not tolerate the type of language used by Kyle Larson during Sunday’s iRacing event. Our Member Conduct Guidelines are clear in this regard, and we will enforce these guidelines to maintain an inclusive environment for our entire industry and fan base.
The language in question was a racial slur, inexplicably deployed during a microphone check. Unsurprisingly, Larson, who is half-Japanese and arrived in NASCAR via its Drive for Diversity program, was suspended indefinitely by the organization, and later fired by his team Chip Ganassi Racing.
Frankly I’m not sure what possesses anyone to use the N-word as a silence-filler — it’s a bad, racist habit, and it’s come back to haunt Larson here.
Larson apologized via video message:
Hey, I just want to say I’m sorry. Last night I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said and there’s no excuse for that
I wasn’t raised that way. It’s just an awful thing to say. I feel very sorry for my family, my friends, my partners, the NASCAR community and especially the African-American community. I understand the damage is probably unrepairable and I own up to that. But I just want to let you all know how sorry I am and I hope everybody is staying safe during these crazy times. Thank you.
Consider this a good reminder that you should both watch what you say when you’re on a public channel (even if you think your microphone is broken) and to avoid getting used to saying racial slurs in private as well.