Kyle Larson texted Bubba Wallace just minutes after he used the word in the online racing game
On Easter Sunday, Kyle Larson entered a hosted iRacing event on the Monza oval. The simulated race featured 62 drivers int he field, with no yellow flags and no sanction.
Larson was attempting to contact his spotter on a private audio channel and/or he was having mic issues in general. He could not get a response from his spotter and he used the n-word, to get his attention.
Unfortunately, the phrase wasn’t on the private channel at all. Instead, it was sent out to all 61 other drivers in the field as well as thousands of fans watching online streams of the event.
Withing minutes, Larson was trending top-10 on twitter.
By Monday, Chip Ganassi Racing suspended their driver. NASCAR soon followed with a suspension of their own.
By Tuesday, sponsors like McDonalds, Capital One and Chevrolet separated themselves from Kyle Larson. Later that day, the 27-year-old released an apology video.
In the end, Chip Ganassi Racing has fired Kyle Larson and left him without a ride. The NASCAR season is currently postponed through the coronavirus outbreak. Larson is able to return if he can find a ride, complete a sensitivity training class and serve out the suspension.
Bubba Wallace is NASCAR’s only African-American driver. He’s a graduate of the Drive for Diversity program. On Thursday, Bubba Wallace shared his thoughts on the events…
Related: NASCAR suspends Kyle Larson
Bubba Wallace on Kyle Larson
“As much as I didn’t want to be involved, I was from the very beginning. There is a part of my background and culture that feels attacked and hurt, and the other part feels confused and angry,” Bubba Wallace stated via social media.
“Let’s start off with the word. It’s NOT just a word. There is a ton of negative meaning behind the word. Doesn’t matter if a person uses it in an offensive way or not.”
“The word brings many terrible memories for people and families and brings them back to a time that WE as a community and human race have tried our hardest to get away from.”
“The sport had made combating this stereotype one of their top priorities. NASCAR has been doing what it can to get away from the ‘racist and redneck sport’ labels. Diversity and inclusion is a main priority for the sport across every time, every car, every crew member and employee.”
“With that said, it hurts to see the African American community immediately throw NASCAR under the bus with the ‘I’m not shocked, it’s NASCAR.’ NASCAR has been, and will be way better than how we’ve been represented in the last couple of weeks.”
“As a person that arguably has the biggest voice on this topic in our sport, it’s tough for me to speak to because I didn’t imagine us being here. Can we all do a better job with inclusion? Absolutely, it’s a worldwide problem, not just in our sport. We as humans can always do better.”
Kyle Larson texted Bubba Wallace right after the language was used
“What Larson said was wrong, whether in private or public. There is no grey area. I saw the incident the night it happened and within 5 minutes Kyle texted me,” Wallace added.
“He called me the next morning as well. Finally, I called him back with a FaceTime to talk ‘face to face’ and we has a good discussion, his apology was sincere.”
“His emotions and pride were shattered. We discussed why he chose to use that language and I shared my thoughts…”
“I told him, it was too easy for him to use that word in this world. I am not mad at him, and I believe that he, along with the most people deserve seconds chances, and deserve space to improve.”
“I do with him and his family nothing but the best. And I am more than willing to work with him to address diversity and inclusion in our sport.”
Bubba Wallace on the reaction from NASCAR fans
Wallace continued, “Since Sunday, I’ve constantly been reading my mentions and Twitter feed. Some comments I can agree with but most leave me baffled.”
“As an athlete, we immediately become representative of something bigger than ourselves. This is something most people may not understand. We are ambassadors for our partners, our race teams, crews, families and the sanctioning body. Every single person is affected.”
“One question I get often is, ‘What’s the worst part of being an athlete?’ I always reply with how we’re put on a pedestal. Everything we do, eat and say is under a microscope.”
“But, a ‘normal’ person can mostly do whatever they want. Some call it unfair? Sure, but that’s what we sign up for from day 1. Have I been the best ambassador at time? Absolutely not. We’re not perfect, I am not perfect. We’re all human, we make mistakes.”
“Often given many chances. The part that irks me the most are the people that say ‘But, if Bubba said it, nothing would happen.’ “
“Let me throw the rulebook at ya first… ‘As a NASCAR Member we shall not make or cause to be made a public statement and/or communication that criticizes, ridicules or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping condition.’ “
“I AM A NASCAR MEMBER! A damn proud one too. I would expect and should be held to the same standard as any other members of the sport.”
“I think everyone can learn something from what has happened these past few weeks. I am looking forward to getting the season back underway and continue our momentum!”