Kyle Larson suspended from NASCAR for using a racial slur on a live-stream

Embed from Getty Images

Since I don’t follow racing or NASCAR, I didn’t really know who Kyle Larson was or is. But now I know. He was tapped, pre-corona, as one of NASCAR’s biggest rising stars, and he’s already won some big races. He’s also the only NASCAR driver with any kind of Japanese ancestry – he’s half-Japanese, and his grandparents were in a Japanese internment camp in California during WWII. So what did he do? He was taking part in a live-streaming virtual race and during the course of the live-stream, he said the n-word. NASCAR acted swiftly (suspiciously swiftly) to suspend Larson.

Kyle Larson was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR on Monday for using a racial slur on a livestream during a virtual race. Chip Ganassi Racing also suspended Larson without pay. The star driver said there was “no excuse” for his comment and apologized in a video posted on his social media accounts.

“I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said,” Larson said. “There is 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 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.”

NASCAR ordered Larson to complete a sensitivity training course before he’s eligible for reinstatement: “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,” NASCAR said in a statement. “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 also was suspended indefinitely by iRacing. “iRacing considers itself to be a welcome and inclusive community for racing enthusiasts all around the world. We have strict policies against offensive behavior and language. Kyle Larson’s language last night during a streamed online race was both offensive and inappropriate, and in violation of our sporting code. As such, Kyle Larson has been suspended indefinitely from the iRacing service,” it said in a statement.

Larson was competing in an iRacing event Sunday night when he appeared to lose communication with his spotter on his headset. During a check of his microphone, Larson said, “You can’t hear me?” That was followed by the N-word.

There were ramifications from Larson’s sponsors. Credit One Bank denounced Larson’s “highly offensive language” and said it supports the “quick actions” by NASCAR and Larson’s team. Chevrolet suspended its personal services relationship with Larson “as we do not tolerate this behavior.” McDonalds is another one of his primary sponsors.

NASCAR quickly pivoted to create an iRacing league of virtual racing that has engaged viewers and set records for esports television viewership. One of the draws of the platform is that drivers can link into one another on a livestream, where they banter, argue, make jokes and discuss the racing. Fans can listen through the gaming app Twitch. Larson used the slur during the Sunday night race against drivers from various series. The event was not part of NASCAR’s official series. Drivers in the chat immediately reacted to Larson’s use of the slur, with one instantly alerting him, “Kyle, you’re talking to everyone, bud.” Others were in disbelief.

[From ESPN]

On one side, I’m a realist and I know that the swiftness with which NASCAR and racing organization dealt with this issue is more about the pandemic and the lack of any kind of professional sports at this time. When NASCAR, as an organization, doesn’t know when they’ll be coming back, it’s easier to suspend a driver indefinitely for cause. That being said, I’ve always considered NASCAR to be such a white-dude/redneck organization, it would have seemed on-brand for them to simply play word games or “send him to sensitivity training” with just a slap on the wrist. This full-throated dragging of Larson is kind of joy to see.

Kyle Larson’s apology:

Embed from Getty Images

Photos courtesy of Getty.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

37 Responses to “Kyle Larson suspended from NASCAR for using a racial slur on a live-stream”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Ali says:

    Is Kyle the new Karen?

    • Joanna says:

      I think so. People were commenting the other day about how there’s no Male equivalent of Karen. I think we just found it

      • Ali says:

        Kyle and Karen and their child Kris……

      • Caitrin says:

        Chad. In New Orleans, we call Bro Karen “Chad.”

      • WTW says:

        I was one of those people saying there’s no male equivalent, and you all still don’t get it. Karen describes white women acting in passive-aggressive, condescending ways to oppress people of color and often using “white womanhood” to play the victim or to excuse their behavior when called out–i.e., harassing and calling the police on a black person minding their own business and then saying they did so because they were afraid. A Karen might be routinely rude and nasty to a black employee and then cry or act victimized when the black employee finally snaps at them. Kyle should not have used the N-word. It is overtly offensive. That said, it is not Karen behavior. If black people keep telling you what Karen behavior is, why do you keep ignoring us? Doing so is completely on brand for Karens. You can’t just own that white women are problematic in very specific ways. This Kyle guy, who is half-Asian, exemplifies how non-black POC so often harbor anti-blackness, which is also a major problem, especially in states like California, where I live.

      • Rmcgrudiva says:

        Thanks, WTW.

      • Joanna says:

        @wow, i’m sorry. It’s not the same. I apologize.

      • pottymouth pup says:

        @Caitrin Chad is a term used by Incels

  2. Traci says:

    Maybe they wanted him out anyway because he’s not full white. He just did them a favor?

    • TQ says:

      I mean obviously he’s a dumbass.

      But yeah, in terms of the response, I kinda wondered this myself. NASCAR comes off as a very white male institution both in terms of drivers and fans. And to my knowledge, NASCAR is not known for being outspoken in supporting an anti-racism platform or championing people of color.

    • Yup, Me says:

      He’s so stupid- being a hafu bigot in an industry where he’s just as likely to be undesirable as other non-whites.

      Also, his apology doesn’t mean shit. If you can’t remember you’re on a hot mic for a moment and you’re talking like that, that means you do it regularly, so fuck him and his weak, wack, half assed apology after the fact.

      Beware POCs trying to get in with the leaders of normative culture. They can be hella treacherous.

      • Kimmie says:

        Oh my gosh. So well said. We should hang out. 6 feet apart, of course. But in all seriousness, I agree with what you’re saying. I grew up a few miles from Daytona and I can tell you NASCAR is a very white/mostly redneck sport. A lot of the rednecks I went to school with were very much into NASCAR and honestly it wasn’t surprising. To break into a sport like that as a POC you’d have to either be a lone wolf and let your wins speak for you (Lewis Hamilton) or drink the koolaid like Kyle.

  3. Chickaletta says:

    Ok dude if it’s a word that should never, ever be said, then why did you say it? You don’t wake up one day and think “I’m gonna use the N-word.” Were you magically compelled? Did your mouth get hacked? Is using racist slurs that you would never, ever normally say a new symptom of Covid-19?

  4. Who ARE These People says:

    “I wasn’t raised that way” has got to be in the Lame Excuse Hall of Fame.

    • lisa says:

      Plus it’s a lie. Obviously he was raised to think that word is normal!

    • Kosmos says:

      Sorry, but he doesn’t come off as sincere at all……just doing his duty to save his reputation or the reputation of his team.

  5. Aang says:

    And the apologists are already out in full force wondering why -insert African American artist here- can say it but this guy can’t.

    • Annaloo. says:

      I hate people try to argue w that point. Racial slurs are like insulting family: you can insult my sister, brother, dad , mom, etc but those outside your f1amily had better not.

      Let me say that slurs should never be used by anyone in general, but if this asinine reasoning is pulled as a defense, it’s simple: 1 If you have no root to the slur, you have no right to the word

  6. Backwards says:

    Charles Leclercs Twitch stream over this nonsense any day!

  7. RoSco says:

    I watched the clip and it came out SUPER casually so it’s implausible that it was just a mistake. That word is part of his regular vocabulary

  8. Joanna says:

    I watched the clip and he said it easily, like it’s a part of his vocabulary. Some white people are pretty sheltered, there was only one non white family in my town. My parents never used the word or talked about me, but I just knew you don’t use that word. It doesn’t matter if black people use it, it’s our job as white people to check our white associates when they use it. My mixed ex husband told me I could use the A version but I didn’t want to take any chances with it possibly sounding like the R version. Plus I’m not cool enough to pull it off. I think some young white kids who have black friends might hear their black friends using it and think it’s ok for them to use, but it’s not. In Kyle’s case, he used the R version and meant it. He’s trash

    • Yup, Me says:

      It’s good he’s your ex; he was wrong. He’s not even invited to the BBQ himself. He couldn’t dole out Black Culture cards to white folks. Was he usually THE “Black” guy in spaces he occupied?

      • Joanna says:

        Lol, yes!

      • Valiantly Varnished says:


      • WTW says:

        Yup, I was thinking the same thing. What kind of black person tells their white significant other it’s okay to use any version of the N-word? It’s very sad and quite telling about his longing for white approval and racial identity problems.

  9. Enis says:

    NASCAR has become super aggressive in dealing with racist behavior over the last 3-4 years. They have banned the Confederate flag and have a zero tolerance policy at events. The late Dale Earnhardt and his son, Dale Jr., were two of the biggest voices for inclusion and banning of racist symbols at NASCAR events.

  10. Michael says:

    If he can drop that word so casually by accident it is probably best he uses it all the time. It is disheartening when his ancestors were at one time also dehumanized and reduced to slurs. But I guess people only have empathy if you look like them.

    • WTW says:

      I live in a majority-minority state and figured out long ago that most non-black POC are just as invested in white supremacy as white people are. Their ancestors having endured oppression means nothing when they’re seeking white acceptance and believe the way to do so is to assert their superiority over black people. I even noticed this trend in childhood. I no longer expect non-black POC to have my back and I really don’t expect many black people to either, since so many suffer from internalized racism themselves.

      • Kris says:

        Thank you! NBPOC are some of the most racist folks out there. They’re even shadier than Chad&Karen b/c they’re quick to play both sides.

  11. Valiantly Varnished says:

    Like I said on Twitter: A racist Nascar driver?! I’m shocked.

    • BlueSky says:

      I know right???? *clutches pearls*

      I’m surprised he didn’t do the “some of my best friends are black” as a
      way of shielding himself.

  12. Jezebel's Lacefront says:

    Before I even knew of his ancestry, I said to myself, “How dare he?” as I figured his ancestry wasn’t completely white by looking at him. Non-white POC are dangerous too. For those tiny crumbs of white acceptance, including sitting under the table, some will do anything.

    He received his non-acceptance via suspension.

  13. Sara says:

    As a fan of nascar, seeing the “fans” make comments all day about how it’s “just a word” is a big reason why the fans have a certain stereotype. Nascar has a rule book. Drivers have contracts. He broke the rules, sponsors drop, no ride. All he had to do was not say the word. But by the way he said it, sounded pretty casual and makes a lot of us think it’s not the first time. He’s probably not the only driver. But kudos to the sponsors and nascar for taking this seriously.