NASCAR star Kyle Larson was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR and his racing team on Monday for dropping a racial slur during a virtual racing event.
What We Know:
- The 27-year-old native of Elk Grove, California, was competing in an iRacing event Sunday night when he seemed to lose communication on his headset with his spotter. During an ensuing microphone check Larson said, “You can’t hear me?” Apparently believing he could not be heard, he then blurted out the N-word.
“We are extremely disappointed by what Kyle said last night during an iRacing Event. The words that he chose to use are offensive and unacceptable.” – Chip Ganassi Racing
- Larson took to social media on Monday to apologize. “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.”
- “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,” NASCAR said in a statement. “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.”
- Larson is half Japanese, and his grandparents spent time in an internment camp in California during World War II. His early career was marked in short-track racing, before eventually getting into NASCAR’s “Drive for Diversity” program.
- Larson isn’t the only racer to damage his career during an iRacing event. Bubba Wallace was dropped by his sponsor last week after he “rage quit” an official NASCAR iRacing event that was being televised nationally.
- Back in 2013, NASCAR suspended Xfinity Series driver Jeremy Clements for using the N-word while speaking to a reporter. He later completed sensitivity training and was reinstated.
NASCAR created iRacing, a virtual racing league, that’s successfully engaged viewers and set records for esports television viewership. Fans have been drawn to the platform because drivers can link into one another on a live stream, where they banter, argue, make jokes, and discuss the racing.
— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) April 13, 2020