Kyle Larson, NASCAR, 2020

Ganassi fires NASCAR driver Larson over racial slur during simrace


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Ganassi has fired its long-standing NASCAR Cup racer Kyle Larson following his use of a racial slur during a simrace two days ago.

“After much consideration, Chip Ganassi Racing has determined that it will end its relationship with drier Kyle Larson,” the team announced in a statement.

“As we said before, the comments that Kyle made were both offensive and unacceptable especially given the values of our organisation. As we continue to evaluate the situation with all the relevant parties, it became obviously that this was the only appropriate course of action to take.”

Larson has made the vast majority of his 223 NASCAR Cup starts with Ganassi and scored all six of his wins with the team.

Yesterday Larson was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR as well as the iRacing platform which hosted Sunday’s ‘Monza Madness’ race during which the incident took place. Sponsors including McDonalds and Credit One have also ended their associations with him.

Larson issued a public apologies via a video on social media yesterday. “I just wanted to say I’m sorry,” he said.

“Last night I made a mistake, 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 un-repair-able. And I own up to that. I just wanted to let you know how sorry I all am.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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49 comments on “Ganassi fires NASCAR driver Larson over racial slur during simrace”

  1. Randy Marsh.

  2. So what did he actually say?

    1. The “N” word. If you are not from the US and don’t know what that is, it’s the most offensive thing you can call an African-American.

      1. It’s the most offensive word you can say to ANY black man!

        1. It _may_ be. If it’s said as an insult or a derogatory term. If it’s reclaimed use them it isn’t generally considered offensive.

          The usual boundary between offense and reclamation is whether you’re a victim yourself. Larson is not ‘white’ (enough to satisfy racists), he’ll have been called the term as abuse, so he’s perfectly entitled to use the reclaimed form.

          Or do you want to tell me my Rasta cousins can’t use the word because they’re a quarter Chinese?

    2. He said the un-sayable (unless you’re a hip hop artist).

      1. Exactly what I was thinking. Rappers can say , and its ok…

        Hypocrisy ???

        1. If ‘rappers/hip hop artists wish to say it in their songs, thats their business, after all they are black. Even the white rappers dont make mistakes using the word.

          But I’m sure you want to. Go on, say it.

          1. @lums

            So it’s ok for some people, but not others, and you decide who goes in each category based on the colour of their skin as you see it?

            And you’ve judged Larson’s skin isn’t dark enough to fit your prejudice?

            Well, there’s certainly something racist here, and it isn’t Larson.

            At the end of the day, you’re defending the Good Ol Boys from the charge that, having been forced to pay lip service to preventing racism with a rule against the n word, they have then turned that rule on almost their only driver who isn’t ‘white’. You’re siding with people notoriously racist and against a victim of racism, to tag a ‘black’ man as racist and kick him out of the whites-only club.

          2. So let me get this straight a rapper can say it because he is black. Do a black rapper using the term is not racist but another nationality saying the term is. So can no other nationalities sing those songs, or if they sing the song and say they racist???

        2. This has nothing to do with his skin colour. He was at work and used a racial slur which is grounds for firing. It’s not like he was hanging out with his friends, used the N-word and it was picked up by a random microphone. Please remember, when we’re watching professional sports, the athletes are in their work place and their employer may hold them to certain standards.

      2. He said it with an R at the end, is it normal in rap to do it that way?

        1. No, unless it’s a rap that actually talks about racial issues and speaks on that word specifically.

          1. unless the double standard applies, you cant use that awful word

      3. So you want to be able to say it too? But you’d then complain about being called a racist.

  3. So he did something bad, and has paid – and is continuing to pay – the price for it. I hope he learns from the mistake, and I hope that his future isn’t judged solely by this one action.

    However, it is heartening to note that his apology is an actual apology, and an admission of the mistake. Not the fake apologies that we hear paraded out so often: “I’m sorry that you’re offended”.

    Also, I am in no way condoning his actions, but today there is a tendency in social media to pile on someone’s wrongdoing to the point of hysterics – at least until those frantic voices move onto the next issue – and I hope he doesn’t fall victim to that (or, not any more than he already has).

    1. Beautifully put @phylyp

    2. What you’re saying makes sense, @phylyp. But at the same time, to have something like that slip out of your mouth when your entire career depends on you not saying very few things, means he is comfortable with the word to an alarming degree–if you are a sponsoring company, NASCAR, or a rational and empathetic human.

      It would not be idea for him to have let more general foul language slip out when he knows he’s at work and has a microphone. But we all use coarse language from time to time and it occasionally does slip out at inopportune moments. To have that slip out means he says it, regularly, without concern.

      So, I understand the thought of not judging him by one action. But because it should be clear that this is not the first or only time he has thrown that word around without caring about who hears it or what the consequences are, I am perfectly fine with him disappearing from any public view for quite some time.

      1. To have that slip out means he says it, regularly, without concern.

        @hobo – you make a good point, he used it as casually as we would say “mate”, “bro”, “dude” or so many equivalents.

        1. @phylyp

          That’s exactly the point. He was obviously using it as you say, which is part of his culture – it’s a reaction to racism to attempt to reclaim the terms of abuse.

          It is not racist for victims of racism to repurpose racist terms. It is racist to criticise them for it, and particularly so to turn around rules designed to protect them and use those in attack.

          1. Except, as someone of Japanese and Caucasian descent, Larson is not someone who gets to reclaim a word that wouldn’t have been used against him or his family or culture. There are slurs he could reclaim, and perhaps use if he saw fit. This isn’t one of them. What you are saying here does not apply. He doesn’t get a pass because he happens to be not 100% white.

            And while I’m sure there are plenty of racist people within NASCAR (and racing in general), if they don’t publicise their position, as Larson did, they are free to think in whatever sad or hateful ways they want.

          2. @dave
            “ It is not racist for victims of racism to repurpose racist terms. It is racist to criticise them for it”

            Ahhhh, the double standards. Bill Cosby was right.

    3. Indeed @phylyp, it is good to see a real exuse. And I also hope that this young man finds the opportunity in his next months and years to learn from mistakes and redeem himself.

  4. Good. He was making millions and representing many brands! Racism will never die but he had to made an example of.

    He doesn’t look white, but it shows that you dont have to be white to be racist. Minorities (and I am one) should be aware that racism is not a one way street.

    1. He half white, half Japanese. Ironically he got into racing through NSACAR’s program to increase diversity.

  5. A talented driver and such a waste, but Larson only has himself to blame. There are so many young guys coming up through the ranks, I am sure Ganassi will fill the void quickly with another young hotshot.
    I wish footballers were treated the same way but alas that doesn’t happen.

  6. I’m certain that was the very first time he’s ever used that word and it doesn’t reflect on any behavior he’s engaged in when not in front of a million people.

    1. Hahahaha
      The way the word easily rolled off his tongue, you can tell he uses it on regular.

      About it was a mistake… Please!

    2. Have you heard the audio?

      This wasn’t his first rodeo.

  7. Insults rarely hold any real meaning (not that I condone such behavior, but it happens to most of us, if we’re being honest, none of us are saints, right?). The only issue is that he accidentally went public with the N word. All right, he’s punished. But the thing is, you can’t say an N word, but you can still treat African Americans like that N word. No wonder most victims of this COVID-19 in the US are minorities. But at least you can’t offend them by your words, only by your deeds. And if they fire some driver over it – that solves the real issue. Real life is not a church, you can say whatever you want, you can’t do whatever you want whatsoever. We’re all so nice and sensitive, words hurt us like knives, but then we take all the privileges that we can, over any minority or people in need. We even earn money by writing about events like this.

    1. William Jones
      15th April 2020, 1:13

      If I’m honest, I’m shocked that as many as three edgelord “adults” have all but admitted to using this word from time to time, though you have all been very keen to point out that if you did use it, it definitely wasn’t racist. It was just an insult for your friends to giggle at.

      Anyway, you seem to be labouring under the misunderstanding that we can’t fight derogatory terms that target the most vulnerable society and at the same time fight acts that keep them vulnerable. Of course you want people to stop focusing on your occasional, definitely not racist words that were literally created to keep them in their place. It’s just a joke bro.

      1. Your point would be better if what you’re defending weren’t the institutional racism of Nascar.

        To take a rule designed to prevent racism and turn it on the victims of racism is classic institutional racism.

        It is just straightforward racism to deny Larsson his lived experiences on the basis of nitpicking about which exact shade of skin he has.

        1. What you’re saying does not apply here. First, Larson may have been called a lot of names, but the word he used is not one that is applicable to him, or either side of his family. Just because he may have had slurs thrown at him during his life, does not mean that his employer should be okay with him throwing them back at work.

          Second, this isn’t some rule that he should have had any difficulty following. It simply was, don’t use hate speech. (and if we are honest, it was really don’t get caught using hate speech.)

          Last, I’m certain that there are far more racist people within NASCAR (and racing) than Larson. But as a public figure, you at least have to keep that to yourself while there are any cameras, mics, phones, people around. In an ideal situation, you just wouldn’t be racist or hateful in other ways. But at the very least, pretend like your job depends on it.

      2. @ william jones

        Seriously. Why are people defending Larson here?

  8. At the end of the day, the word was thought up in his brain and he just came right out and said it. It wasn’t an accidental release of the word. Just goes to show how what happens when there is world watching and you are not in the protection of your racist mates. Yes I believe that, there is no way that was the first time he’s used that word or that it’s only ever been said in his head.

    1. This. It always gets me how smoothly someone can snap a Hitler salute or say words like this and then try to act like they are not the type of person that normally does this. The NASCAR culture and the South are steeped in their racist traditions and this is no surprise at all that this happened. Good for Ganassi for quickly firing him.

    2. At the end of the day, he, a ‘black’ man, was using it in the ‘what’s up’ way rather than the racist slur way, which is usually considered fine, but the good ol boys at NASCAR have decided to demonstrate their antiracism by making an example of a ‘darkie’.

      Your imaginary criticism says more about how desperate you are to jump on that bandwagon than about Larsson.

      1. Jesus!! Dave. You are seriously doing over time in these comments sections trying to water down how serious the situation is. Waffling on about how the word should be used or the intention of the user bla bla.

        If you want to use the word (which i believe you are already acustomed to judging by your campaign to convince us all, but hope to let fly in public) then freely do so. After all… freedom of speech. Its the same bland argument from you lot, ‘oh rappers use it’ so lets all use it. Another one is ‘its the new endearment’ term for online gamers, its not that serious.

        Like someone mentioned in another comment section, this situation shines light on who is who in these comments, so to avoid them.

        1. Complaining about racism makes me racist? That’s what racists always say when their victims complain.

          Reality is that racists have been trying to cry ‘racism’ about the reclaimed use of racist terms ever since their victims started trying to reclaim them. This is more of the same.

          It’s simply a fact that racists don’t go around asking people their exact ancestry before hurling racist abuse, so Larson will have been called the word we are talking about, in a derogatory way, and is perfectly entitled to use the word in the reclaimed way.

          1. You’re not complaining about racism, you’re trying to justify Larson’s racism by implying that he’s “black”, so therefore free to use it. Which is utter nonsense!

      2. Throughout this comment section I’ve seen you say that he is black. What is the basis for that? Perhaps I’m missing something but I thought his ancestry was Japanese and white?

  9. In today’s safer and ultra reliable racing, still it takes one quick mistake to end your career.

  10. I hate the way people defend this guy. No he didn’t walk up to a black person all call him or her that but he used the word. It is generally known that the word is used between black Americans within subcultures as an identifier but everyone in the English speaking world knows it’s not ok to say it. If it was a black driver I’m sure they would be dismissed too because it is not about how it was said or who said it, it was about the word being said and on a global sporting platform or any platform it’s simply not ok. If someone spoke about you wife or sister saying “that b**** is fine” you would also not like it.
    In short it is not ok and he deserves the sack.

  11. I didn’t realise someone can lose their job just for being heard to utter a particular word in general conversation, which one has to assume is what has happened in this case because nowhere does it say that he verbally abused any particular individual. Very harsh decision and actually really stupid and damaging for all concerned parties. I mean, you couldn’t imagine Mercedes firing Lewis Hamilton for the same thing, for example.

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