NASCAR Suspended Driver Kyle Larson After He Used A Racial Slur During An iRacing Event

NASCAR driver Kyle Larson was suspended by the auto racing body on Monday following the use of a racial slur during a streamed broadcast of an iRacing event. The incident happened during the latest event in which drivers have taken to virtual racing during the COVID-19 pandemic to drive digitally recreated tracks while cameras capture the action and broadcast it online and sometime on broadcast TV.

The Easter Sunday stream of Monza Madness brought a variety of NASCAR Cup drivers to virtual Italy to test their skills on a digital Autodromo Nazionale Monza. But Larson was captured on a Twitch stream uttering a racial slur, which quickly drew swift criticism online.

You can watch the video below, but be advised that some clearly offensive language is captured here.

Both NASCAR and Larson’s racing team, Chip Ganassi Racing, took swift action following the video’s spread on social media. Ganassi issued a statement and said Larson would be suspended without pay.

NASCAR, meanwhile, said it was aware of the incident on Monday morning and investigating. Soon after released an official statement that said Larson would be indefinitely suspended.

Larson’s lead sponsor, Credit One Bank, also unsurprisingly dropped Larson later on Monday afternoon, as did McDonald’s in a statement (via Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass).

“We were extremely disappointed and appalled to hear about this incident,” the company said in a statement. “The comments made by Kyle Larson are insensitive, offensive and not reflective of our inclusive values and will not be tolerated. McDonald’s is taking immediate action to terminate the relationship with Larson.”

Hearing inappropriate and racist language while gaming online can unfortunately be common, but it’s surprising to hear it from professional drivers in events that are drawing a lot of attention while real sports remain on pause during the coronavirus pandemic. What’s more, drivers are used to their every word available for fans to hear during races, as you can follow in-car radio both at the track and at home as part of the race day experience. There’s no excuse for using that kind of language and, in a lot of ways, Larson should have known people were listening to him no matter how heated a gaming moment he had on the virtual track.