The Charlotte Observer
NASCAR driver Hailie Deegan will be required to complete sensitivity training before the 2021 season for saying the R-word Sunday evening during an iRacing session. A clip circulated on social media showing Deegan speaking the derogatory word for persons with developmental disabilities into her headset while driving in a virtual racing event.
“This is fun,” Deegan said. Then, after apparent contact from another driver, she added, “Oh, ay, who’s the (R-word) behind me? Don’t do that, please.”
The stream was the first from Deegan’s personal account on Twitch. She posted an apology via Twitter on Sunday night:
“Earlier tonight I used an insensitive word during an online race being broadcast on twitch,” Deegan wrote. “It was inappropriate slang and a stupid thing to do. I apologize to everyone who was offended by it. There’s no excuse for it, and I know I have to do better for my sponsors and my fans.”
Deegan, 19, is the daughter of professional motocross driver Brian Deegan and has been touted as a young, female face for NASCAR’s fan base. She has competed in lower-level NASCAR series, winning one race in 2018 and two races in 2019 in the K&N Pro Series West.
She raced a full ARCA season last year with DGR-Crosley (four top-five finishes, 17 top-10s), and is set to run her first full-time season in the lowest of NASCAR’s three national series, the Camping World Truck Series, with DGR-Crosley in 2021. Ford Performance, the manufacturer Deegan signed a development contract with last year, said on Monday that it was aware of the inappropriate comment made by the driver.
“Hailie immediately acknowledged this mistake, has apologized and promised to be much more thoughtful in the future,” Ford Performance said in a statement.
The use of an insensitive word on a virtual racing stream comes a few months after full-time Cup driver Kyle Larson was reinstated by NASCAR his suspension for using a racial slur during an iRacing event last year. Larson was fired mid-season by his former team and completed mandated sensitivity training. He issued multiple public apologies before he was able to rejoin NASCAR following a six-month suspension. He will compete for Hendrick Motorsports this season.
NASCAR’s rule book includes a clause that allows the sanctioning body to fine, suspend and/or terminate membership for individuals who issue communications that “criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person’s race, color, creed, … ,or handicapping condition.”
DGR-Crosley did not respond to a request for comment.
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