By on April 13, 2020

American stock car driver and World of Outlaws Sprint car team owner Kyle Larson was caught uttering a racial slur via a hot mic on Easter Sunday. Larson (#42 in the the NASCAR Cup Series) was participating in an online racing event with other professional drivers, streamed via Twitch and eNASCAR, where he suffered a virtual off. Afterward, it seemed like he was having a difficult time with his headset or internet connection. Larson clearly asks whether or not another driver can hear him before casually tossing in America’s least-favorite racial slur, apparently unaware that he was broadcasting on an open channel.

As you might imagine, the response was swift and savage. By Monday, Chip Ganassi Racing had announced it was suspending Larson without pay while it investigates the situation. NASCAR said it would look into the matter before it decides how to act. 

The driver issued a public apology shortly after news of his suspension broke.

“Last night I made a mistake and said the word that should never ever be said and there’s no excuse for that,” Larson said in a video. “I wasn’t raised that way and 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.”

Meanwhile, the media seems torn on how severe the punishment should be. While we’re not sure how relevant this should be, Larson is the first NASCAR driver of Japanese ancestry and was part of the organization’s “Drive for Diversity” initiative. Started in 2004, the program was designed by NASCAR marketing executives to attract minority fans and drivers to the sport. Kyle Larson is arguably Drive for Diversity’s biggest success story. In fact, he’s praised it numerous times for helping him get where he is today.

That has left many concerned that penalizing him sends the wrong message, though we would argue that this entire issue could be simplified by having a clear regulatory standard within the sport. If someone breaks an established rule, ramifications should probably be independent of their ethnicity. However, considering Conor Daly lost a sponsorship deal over his father’s racial insensitivities in 2018, we imagine race teams will continue doing whatever they want to best maintain their public image. Ironically, Daly was in communication with Larson when the impetus for the scandal took place (bad language ahead).

“Hey, you can’t hear me?” Larson asked on Sunday. “Hey, nigger.”

For a moment, you can hear a couple drivers chuckle as they realize he had mistakenly broadcast on an open channel. After an brief silence, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Anthony Alfredo responded with “Kyle, you’re talking to everyone, bud.”

After a bit more chatter, Daly can be heard saying “yikes” to nobody in particular.

[Image: NASCAR]

 

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52 Comments on “NASCAR Driver Suspended for Uttering Slur...”


  • avatar
    Guy A

    And this is news?? How starved of sports news people must be.

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    I refuse to get up in arms over “the word” when “the word” appears in hundreds of songs.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      HEY…you are just allowed to buy the album, not sing the lyrics!

      However, for someone in such a position as Kyle Larson, where companies that are likely pretty socially conscious of this sort of thing and literally are paying your salary, it seems like a boneheaded thing to do.

    • 0 avatar
      cognoscenti

      MiataReallyIsTheAnswer wrote:
      “I refuse to get up in arms over “the word” when “the word” appears in hundreds of songs.”

      Sorry to point to the obvious, but in every single one of those songs, that word and its variants are only uttered by African Americans. There is a big difference.

      • 0 avatar
        SirRaoulDuke

        Uttered by African Americans into the ears of white Americans, who empty their wallets to buy the music made by those African Americans and thus making them wealthy as they knowingly desensitize all Americans to the horror behind that word.

        It’s a strange thing. I was a child in the 70s, when white American was much more free in using that word, yet I did not hear it often, from people of both races. Today? It is everywhere. If you don’t think the artistic “choices” of certain stars make a difference, you are nuts.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          I train at a small university gym.

          Have often pointed out how ludicrous it is for upper middle class, privileged Caucasian students to listen to ‘gangsta rap’.

          Thankfully my message has met with some success. We now have undergrads voluntarily listening to Marvin Gaye, Motown, The Tragically Hip (it’s a Canadian thing), and even Neil Diamond as they work out.

          Unfortunately there is still a following for Eastern European ‘thrash’ rock, which may be the worst ‘music’ I have ever heard.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            should say the same for jazz and blues, then.

            “White people got no business playin’ the blues ever… What the **** do white people have to be blue about? Banana Republic ran out of khakis? Huh? The espresso machine is jammed? … S***, white people ought to understand their job is to give people the blues, not to get them.”

            -George Carlin

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Most jazz and blues songs address universal human issues. We can say the same about Gospel, and even soul.

            But ‘gangsta rap’ is largely gender, location, and race specific in its context.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        It isn’t that simple. Back in the late 80’s-early 90’s there was an effort to mainstream hip hop and rap and get it into suburbia. This is when you got the Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer type stuff. There was a lot of pushback however that the genre should continue to tell the African American story and not “Sell Out”

        At some point in the 2010’s or so, this viewpoint shifted. White suburban kids gave up on rock and embraced hip-hop. The artists in the genre enjoyed the money flowing in. It sort of culminated with Kendrick Lamar calling one of his white fans on stage to sing one of his songs at a concert and when she sang it, as written, she was berated.

        It is mainstream music now. Fans of any race will buy it, enjoy it, and sing it. That is sort of the price for mainstream success. If these artists do not like their fans who are buying the albums and paying for the concerts singing it, they may want to reconsider the choice of lyrics.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          “There was a lot of pushback however that the genre should continue to tell the African American story.” My point exactly. How can a Caucasian, upper middle class kid relate or understand the African American story.

          Most Canadians of African ancestry immigrated here from the Caribbean, over the past 40 years. Their history is considerably different from that of African Americans.

          There is also a significant percentage who arrived in Canada directly from Africa, again during the past 25+ years and therefore their story is also different.

          The majority of the remaining Canadians of African ancestry arrived either with the United Empire Loyalists after the American Revolution, through the Underground Railroad before the American Civil War, or as ‘draft dodgers’ during Vietnam.

          In Canada the most popular rap star is Drake. Someone of mixed race, who grew up in one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in all of Canada (Forest Hill) and who became a ‘child star’ on the DeGrassi series. Hardly an example of ‘street cred’ for African Americans. But somebody whose success the should respect/admire.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            ““There was a lot of pushback however that the genre should continue to tell the African American story.” My point exactly. How can a Caucasian, upper middle class kid relate or understand the African American story.”

            nobody is saying you can’t like and appreciate the music (remember, Carlin was a comedian and said what I posted above for laughs.) the whole cry about “cultural appropriation” (which isn’t nearly as big as the pearl clutchers would have you believe) is just plain dumb. If you like music of a culture different from yours, nobody has a problem with that. If you want to be like the kids I went to high school with in the ’90s and act like that makes you a “gangsta,” so be it. Just don’t expect anyone to take you seriously and I hope you feel really silly about it once you’re older than, oh, 17. Oh, and don’t think that means you can go skulking around the 48213 zip code like you belong.

            I still chuckle about some of those guys. nothing says “dumb suburban kid” like some skinny redhead wearing baggy clothes calling his friends “my n***a.” I mean, in high school I dove into Metallica with both feet, but I didn’t go around saying “Yeah-AH! like James Hetfield.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Yeah but on the artist side of the equation most of these dudes didn’t exactly come up like Tupac and Ice Cube either. As has been pointed out, dudes like Drake aren’t really any closer to the experiences that N.W.A and the like sang about than I am. Modern hip hop has sort of become like modern Country…It is just warmed over pop with a few exceptions. As such, the audience reflects that. I mean dudes are rapping about scooping their litter boxes. Freaking Debbie Harry doing “Rapture” has more street cred than crap like that. Honestly I feel like Hip Hop and Country are sort of where Rock was just before Grunge broke. It has gotten so ridiculous in many cases that it is going to take an absolute rebellion against it to change it. I am not sure how that would happen nowadays though.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            well, if we want to go down the rabbit hole, metal is just blues and surf music with distortion and shouty vocals.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVqqWUyDPzA

            music builds on what came before.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          I believe that the vernacular for that substitutes a “w” for the “n” on the beginning of the pejorative.

          Vanilla Ice and Fresh Prince were one thing! But the constant dreck of “hoes and b&#*es,” accompanied by a bass line played loudly enough on the subwoofers of every teenager’s car — well, the ones that GIVE A CARE about them — to be able to loosen dental fillings within 200 feet, or blast out 85th-story skyscraper windows within a five block radius, of said vehicle, is quite another!

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. Monte

      Well there are different variations on how the word is used unfortunately. The way they use it in song’s and talking among friends etc etc is n***as with “as” at the end, the way he used it ni**ers with “ers” is a long time racist/derogatory way that racist people use to try to prove a point and start mess.

  • avatar
    redapple

    MIATA:

    Lot of truth there. I agree.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    I used to carry this white guilt thing while I was in my 20’s. That was until I was a victim of an armed robbery by a former black employee and there is something about him speaking no words, holding a gun to our faces, and seeing one’s life flash before my eyes that caused me to revisit giving a damn about the plight of certain segments of the population.

    I do not go out of my way to harm anyone – but I most assuredly feel insulted when one group continues to avoid personal responsibility for their actions; and that my ancestors who never owned a slave are to blame for this victimization.

    As long as the “n” word is used by the group who is offended by it, then the word is never an insult or a crime for utterance. Is it in bad taste? Oh, yes. But it is high time that using it one way to bash one race is ended. If the word is continued to be mined by that offended group for profit, then the word is fair game to be used by all. There is simply no way to deal with this – either end it for all, or remove the chip off your shoulder.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “though we would argue that this entire issue could be simplified by having a clear regulatory standard within the sport.”

    NASCAR itself is actually fairly consistent here. You are suspended until you complete the diversity training course (which is generally 2-3 weeks) at which time you can compete again. During the Coronavirus times I don’t know how hard it will be to take the training or how much real racing time he’ll miss.

    HOWEVER, Nascar doesn’t control the individual race teams or their sponsors. If Credit One and McDonald’s tells Gnassi that Larson needs to go then he’s gone. That punishment doesn’t come from Nascar, just from the world. He can still race for any other team once his suspension is lifted.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Cui bono?

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      his sponsor(s) and team. they’re private entities and are well within their rights to choose who they want representing them.

      freedom of speech does not include the “right” to use anyone as your platform.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    Indeed.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    The “N” word is officially dead and no longer connotes the same meaning it once did, not for a long time now. It’s just seized upon now as an excuse to feign victimization and to throw back into the face of the person using it in a vengeful counterattack.
    Intent is everything.
    People need to “lighten up Frances”.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      Nah, intent don’t matter that much [Exhibit A].

      Context, on the other hand, is everything.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I invite you to stand at the corner of W. Warren & Livernois and shout it a few times.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Lol, I was thinking of a couple of southside Chicago neighborhoods and doing the same

        Lots of brave boys lockdown in their houses today

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        As someone who grew up in the Detroit area (and moved to the Toledo area at age 14), I can only say one thing if you’re crazy enough to try that: Yikes!!

        Is the “Cass Corridor” still as it was even 20 years ago, has that area of the city been gentrified, or has it been bulldozed flat?

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      I hear many white men lamenting that they’re not allowed to use the N-word, never explaining why they want to use it so badly.

      I say go ahead. Use it all you want. Be proud of your use of it.

      But, accept that most people do not accept it, will judge you on it, and will generally avoid and disadvantage you for it… which is exactly what the word was intended to do to black people.

      Maybe you’ll learn something from it. Or, you could just not use the stupid word.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “I hear many white men lamenting that they’re not allowed to use the N-word, never explaining why they want to use it so badly.”

        funny, isn’t it? These are the same guys who sneer at people with stuff like “life isn’t fair, snowflake!” but the instant you tell them they shouldn’t do something, they whine about how unfairly they’re being treated.

        • 0 avatar
          OverHypedVirusVSTheB&B

          Yes, because you don’t do the same to people you disagree with on a daily basis here. Best and brightest y’all, hypocrites to the end!
          Reeee more snowflake, you’re the very definition of one.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            cool, I have a fan now. I was wondering why my bank account balances were going up so fast, turns out I’ve been living rent-free in your head.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    …However, considering Conor Daly lost a sponsorship deal over his father’s racial insensitivities in 2018…

    I see.

    So he was raised this way.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Punished for being human? Yep.

    Is there a double standard for public figures that’s tougher? Again, yep.

    Sorry, when athletes, celebs and other public figure say stupid things, they pay. Maybe that sucks, maybe it doesn’t, but that’s the way it is.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything whiter than this comment thread, and that includes a ream of blank copy paper, my kitchen covered in spilled milk, and zero-visibility conditions in Minnesota in February.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    So, he was using it in a friendly way? Like if I say, “hey motherf*****” to a buddy?

    If so, not racist. No big deal.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    PLEASE FIX THIS SITE. Trying to log in, trying to find specific postings, trying to read posts, trying to post. I am pretty sure that I could get a group of high school students to create a more user friendly site, in a matter of weeks.

    TorStar should be ashamed of itself.

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      I completely concur but it’s a lost cause. When this execrable commenting format was introduced there was a pitchfork parade. The body politic was glad-handed with “we’re looking into it” aka “they’ll eventually get used to it and STFU”.

      Couple that with the hemorrhage of talented staff…..and the log-in difficulties…..and the troll-storming…… :(

  • avatar
    randyinrocklin

    I tried to make a comment on this thread but somehow got in another thread before this one. Strange……..Oh well, they probably don’t know what I was yappin about.

  • avatar
    RHD

    If there were live sports happening right now, this story would not be very big.
    But it’s come out when replays of 20-year old games are being aired, and nonstop blather about what team wants to draft what player, so it’s very welcome fodder for the unlistenable Sports Talk format.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    OOPS .

    That noise you just heard was his endorsement career going down the toilet….

    ? Are there any NASCAR drivers who are black ? .

    What if they said ‘honky’ ? .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Was he using the word to belittle or denigrate a person of African descent? No, then it’s just a rude word.

    It should be treated the same as each time Dale Jr. dropped the “f” word on live tv.

    That said, he should probably lose that particular word from his vocabulary. Definitely a bonehead thing to say, every mic should be considered hot.

  • avatar
    dwford

    People offended by racial slurs just don’t live in the real world at all. In my time as an Uber driver, I’ve come to realize that the regular working class people I drive around use the N word in normal conversation with each other extremely regularly.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    As an update, he wasn’t just suspended, he has since been fired by Chip Ganassi. https://www.espn.com/racing/nascar/story/_/id/29034370/nascar-star-kyle-larson-fired-using-racial-slur-virtual-race

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