Japanese American NASCAR Driver Fired for Using N-Word During Virtual Race
By Bryan Ke
April 14, 2020
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to report that Kyle Larson was initially suspended without pay on Monday. He has since been fired.
Kyle Larson, a professional driver at NASCAR, has been fired for using the N-word during a virtual race.
“After much consideration, Chip Ganassi Racing has determined that it will end its relationship with driver Kyle Larson,” Larson’s team, Chip Ganassi Racing, said on Tuesday. “As we said before, the comments that Kyle made were both offensive and unacceptable especially given the values of our organization. As we continued to evaluate the situation with all the relevant parties, it became obvious that this was the only appropriate course of action to take.”
The 27-year-old racer joined an unofficial iRacing event called Monza Madness organized by Landon Cassill along with fellow NASCAR stars and other simulation racers on Sunday as official racing competitions were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Guardian.
Larson was reportedly streaming his race when he suddenly lost communication on his headset. In the clip posted by A.J. Perez, the racer’s name popped up on the screen indicating that he was the one talking.
“You can’t hear me? Hey, n—-r,” Larson said.
After using the racial slur, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Anthony Alfredo reminded Larson that everyone could hear him.
“Yep, we heard that,” fellow competitor Aron MacEachern also responded, Fox News reported.
It was unclear who he was directing the racial slur at, but Chip Ganassi Racing and NASCAR initially suspended Larson on Monday.
NASCAR followed with a separate statement.
“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,” the company said. “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 posted a video apologizing for his actions the previous night.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
In addition to NASCAR and his team, iRacing also suspended the professional driver from its platform.
Larson’s sponsors, Credit One and McDonald’s, have yet to release any comments regarding the incident.
Larson is the son of a Japanese American woman, whose parents spent time in a concentration camp. He became the first person of Japanese descent to win a NASCAR Cup race in 2016.
Feature Image via @kylelarson42
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