Larson, one of the sport’s top stars, was participating in an iRacing event, a series of live online virtual races that NASCAR has organized to keep fans engaged after coronavirus put an end to the season, when he just casually spat out the N-word over an open mic.
— A.J. Perez (@byajperez) April 13, 2020
In the iRacing event Sunday night, Larson appeared to lose communication on his headset with his spotter. During a check of his microphone, he asked his spotter, “I can’t see it. You can’t hear me? Hey n—-r.” The slur was directed at his spotter, who is white.
Larson posted an apology video on Twitter, but it was too little too late.
“I made a mistake, said the word that should never, ever be said,” Larson said. “There is no excuse for that. I wasn’t raised that way. It is 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 everyone is staying safe during these crazy times.”
— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) April 13, 2020
His team team, Chip Ganassi Racing, moved quickly, announcing they had suspended Larson without pay, and possibly hoping that would quill growing anger. “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. As of this moment we are suspending Kyle without pay while we work through this situation with all appropriate parties.”
By Monday sponsors, including McDonald’s, withdrew their support and NASCAR had decided to suspended Larson indefinitely and ordered he attend sensitivity training.
Today Chip Ganassi Racing took additional steps to distance itself from the situation, announcing it had fired Larson.
“After much consideration, Chip Ganassi Racing has determined that it will end its relationship with driver Kyle Larson. 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.”
Social media wasn’t on Larson’s side, and welcomed the firing.
Jay Williams on the Kyle Larson incident: pic.twitter.com/tJKzDkzdSD
— Avery Hage (@AveryHage) April 14, 2020
— DL Hughley (@RealDLHughley) April 14, 2020
The way you said it, so easily without hesitation, you def say it a lot! Apologize deez nuts we not buying it and wear that racist badge with honor don’t hide we need to see who you really are!
— Reggie Bush (@ReggieBush) April 14, 2020
Christ. How often has Kyle Larson said the n-word for him to just casually use it like it’s a damn pronoun while he’s playing a video game?
— Elie Mystal (@ElieNYC) April 14, 2020
Translation: my money is about be fucked up so I’m trying to save face…Kyle Larson can go fuck himself 🖕🏾 pic.twitter.com/uJoO9hVXck
— ✭Sean✭ (@AmericanWolf_) April 14, 2020
NASCAR been trying for years to escape its redneck image. This latest incident won’t help.