UPDATE 4/14/2020 3:34 PM PST: Man, life really comes to you at 200mph when you have this kind of problem.
Just two days after uttering the N word on a virtual racing feed seen by thousands of people, NASCAR star Kyle Larson was officially DISMISSED. His company, Chip Ganassi Racing, released a statement on Tuesday turning his suspension into something more permanent:
“After careful consideration, Chip Ganassi Racing has decided to end his relationship with driver Kyle Larson. As we said before, Kyle’s comments were both offensive and unacceptable, especially given the values of our organization. As we continued to assess the situation with all parties involved, it became clear that this was the only appropriate action to take. “
Larson was going to be a free agent anyway – and one of the most valuable. We now imagine that no one will want to touch him with a 10ft pole position. Ouch.
Think you can get away with blatant racism in 2020? Not so quick… as a racing driver Kyle larson discovered Monday.
As with most sports during the pandemic, NASCAR had to cancel its big events, which draw crowds of thousands on crowded expressways. However, the organization of the races has tried to understand how change speed for their audience – and their athletes.
The solution? iRacing. Esports already have a huge following, and watching professional runners participate in a video game version of the sport seems like a natural replacement given the options available.
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Unfortunately for Larson, one of the biggest differences is the fact that viewers who typically can’t hear you over the sound of the screeching engines can now hear every word. The 27-year-old was apparently having technical difficulties with his helmet during Sunday’s virtual race – at least that’s what he thought – because he said:
“Can’t you hear me?” Hey, born *****. “
The next sound you can hear in the video, which was shared on Twitter almost immediately, air is drawn out of the room. After a few seconds, other race participants begin to respond:
“Wow, hey. “
“Kyle, you talk to everyone, mate.”
“Yes, we heard that. “
“Oh, damn, he didn’t just …”
“Do not say anything.”
See for yourself the instant fallout:
– AJ Perez (@byajperez) April 13, 2020
It only took a few hours for the news to spread – and for the hammer to fall on Larson. The company he works for, Chip Ganassi Racing, issued a statement Monday morning saying:
“We are extremely disappointed with what Kyle said last night at an iRacing event. The words he chose to use are offensive and unacceptable. From that point on, we are suspending Kyle without pay while we work. on this situation with all the appropriate parties. “
Kylie was in the final year of her contract with Chip Ganassi Racing and was poised to become an extremely valuable free agent – but her disturbing word choice may have cost her hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is if he can race again, because NASCAR has suspended him indefinitely! Their statement reads as follows:
“NASCAR has made diversity and inclusion a priority and will not tolerate the type of language used by Kyle Larson at Sunday’s iRacing event. Our member conduct guidelines are clear in this regard, and we will apply these guidelines to maintain an inclusive environment for all of our industry and our fans. “
Ironically, Kyle Larson was actually part of the push for diversity; he’s half Japanese and made the jump from short track racing to NASCAR through his Drive for Diversity program. Not only that, he was a huge achievement for the program, as he is still the only driver of Japanese descent to win a major race.
Now, he may have delayed the organization’s progress by a decade – we mean, now you have to assume he surely isn’t the only one talking like that when no one is listening. Some of the other voices on this video could be interpreted as less offended by the words and more protective of the man who said them.
Speaking of defense, what does Larson have to say for himself? He eventually took to Twitter to apologize, saying he “made a mistake and said the word that should never be said.”
“There is no excuse for this; I wasn’t raised that way – it’s just a horrible thing to say… I really feel sorry for my family, my friends, my partners, the NASCAR community and especially the African American community.
He also acknowledged that “the damage is probably irreparable”. You can see the full apology video for yourself (below):
— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) April 13, 2020
What do you think of these excuses? Are you shocked to hear such racism coming from a NASCAR driver ??
[Image via Johnny Louis/WENN/Kyle Larson/Twitter.]