NASCAR driver fired for racial slur in virtual TV race
Last Updated: 14/04/20 6:40pm
Kyle Larson has been fired by Chip Ganassi Racing after using a racial slur on a live stream of a virtual race, according to The Associated Press.
Larson was fired on Tuesday, completing a stunning downfall for the budding NASCAR star.
The 27-year-old, in his seventh cup season with Ganassi and considered the top free agent in NASCAR just three days ago, is now out of a job in what could ultimately be an eight-figure blunder.
In a statement, Ganassi said: "As we said before, the comments that Kyle made were both offensive and unacceptable especially given the values of our organisation. 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."
Larson had been prepping to test free agency for the first time in his short career and Ganassi was expected to find himself in a bidding war to keep the sprint car driver he had gambled on and developed into one of NASCARs future stars.
The unravelling began Sunday night when Larson was competing in one of the iRacing virtual events drivers are playing during the sports hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Larson appeared to lose communication on his headset with his spotter.
During a check of his microphone, he asked his spotter, You cant hear me? That was followed by the N-word. The slur was directed at his spotter, who is white.
He was suspended without pay by Ganassi early Monday, then suspended indefinitely by NASCAR and Larson, who is half Japanese, was ordered to complete sensitivity training.
Larson's famed sprint car career could also be in jeopardy: Kyle Larson Racing fields a Chevrolet in the World of Outlaws Series that is sponsored in part by Lucas Oil, a company that said it was indefinitely ending its partnership with Larson.
His slur went viral because viewers can follow the virtual races on the gaming app Twitch and eavesdrop on the drivers typical lighthearted banter. Larson apologised in a video posted on his social media accounts.
Larson said: "I made a mistake, said the word that should never, ever be 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."
He also reached out to many sponsors and friends to apologise. Brent Powell, president of Plan B Sales and Marketing, was the only sponsor to remain behind Larson. He said the driver called him personally to express his regret about what transpired.
Powell said: "We know he is an awesome young man that made a mistake and we are going to stand behind him 100 per cent and help any way we can."