NASCAR driver Kyle Larson has issued an apology after using a racial slur during a virtual race Sunday night that was being livestreamed, leading to a suspension by NASCAR and his racing team.
“I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said. There’s no excuse for that. I wasn’t raised that way. It’s just an awful thing to say,” he said in a video posted to Twitter.
He went on to express regret to his friends, family, the NASCAR community “and especially the African American community” while acknowledging that the damage caused “is probably unrepairable.”
Larson, who’s a driver for Chip Ganassi Racing and considered one of NASCAR’s youngest talents at age 27, was participating in an iRacing virtual race when he used the word after expressing difficulty communicating with the other players on his headset.
“You can’t hear me? Hey, n****r,” Larson said.
NASCAR said his behavior violates the organization’s member conduct guidelines. He will be suspended indefinitely and will have to attend sensitivity training as directed by NASCAR.
“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.”
A representative for Larson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday. A spokesperson for Chip Ganassi Racing also said to HuffPost that Larson has been suspended from the team without pay.
“We are extremely disappointed by what Kyle said last night during an iRacing Event,” the spokesperson said. “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.”
Larson grew up in northern California and is half Japanese, with his mother’s parents having spent time in an internment camp during World War II. He was accepted into NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program and graduated in 2012.
Racecar drivers have been using the iRacing gaming platform to race against one another virtually as NASCAR postpones race events amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A spokesperson for iRacing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.