NASCAR driver Kyle Larson is coming under fire after it appeared he used a racial slur during a livestream of an iRacing event on Sunday night.
With the coronavirus shutting down the NASCAR season, the organization has shifted to using the online motor sports simulation iRacing with what is known as the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. Drivers compete against one another in these livestreamed matches, allowing fans to watch — and listen — to them competing in real-time.
It turned controversial on Sunday when Larson, who drives the No. 42 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Cup Series, allegedly to use the N-word during a race.
“Hey ni**er,” Larson reportedly said, drawing shock from the other competitors.
“Kyle, you’re talking to everyone bud,” one person responded.
“Yikes,” another said.
— A.J. Perez (@byajperez) April 13, 2020
The clip of Larson’s apparent racial slur has gained viral attention, with many sharing video of the incident on Twitter and across social media. One abbreviated clip of the exchange drew more than 50,000 views in less than an hour, and Larson’s name shot to the top of Twitter trends for Sunday evening.
Many called out the NASCAR driver for letting the alleged slur slip. Larson himself did not offer an explanation, and it was not clear if he intentionally used the word, but many spoke out against him for it and hoped he would respond to it.
“So Kyle Larson has some splaining to do and fast,” one person tweeted.
“This is gonna be a hard one to stomach NASCAR fans,” another added. “Extremely frustrated with Kyle Larson. This is why fans can’t have nice things. Some drivers are too stupid to speak without a script, as a result everyone is watered down.”
Some worried that the alleged slur could have an impact on Larson’s career.
“NASCAR driver Kyle Larson is trending and not in a good way,” tweeted sports journalist Bob Williams. “His career may well be over after using the n-word in a live gaming stream.”
This is not the first time that a prominent figure has gotten in trouble for an errant racial slur while livestreaming a game. Popular YouTuber PewDiePie drew controversy back in 2017 after shouting the word during a broadcast. The Swedish gamer, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, faced backlash online and later offered an apology. As Variety noted, Kjellberg said he was an “idiot” for saying the word and claimed it slipped out in the heat of the moment while he was playing a game.
Larson has yet to issue any kind of public statement on his alleged racial slur during the iRacing event.