NASCAR announced that driver Nelson Piquet Jr. (pictured) has been placed on indefinite probation and would be fined $10,000 and required to attend sensitivity training after calling fellow NASCAR driver Parker Kligerman a “fag” on Instagram last week.
In response, Piquet tweeted: “Maybe u should know Parker is a personal friend of mine. If you look properly, we have other pictures making fun of each other.”
To which @MatthewBreuer responded: “Big difference between making fun and using an offensive slur w/o care. Directly offends #LGBT fans. They deserve better.”
Piquet wrote back: “don’t act like if u have never called your friends names. Were (sic) not living in the 50s anymore bud.. jokes are jokes.”
Piquet was right about one thing: We’re not living in the 50s anymore. His choice of using an outdated and derogatory term caused a serious backlash. A number of media outlets picked up the story, calling out the driver for being homophobic and pressuring him to apologize.
Piquet’s tweets have since been deleted, and on Tuesday evening, he released an official statement, writing:
“I sincerely apologize to everyone for my poor choice of words last week. I did not mean to hurt or offend anyone. This has been a cultural learning experience that will make me a more sensitive person moving forward.”
We’ll have to take his word on it.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, also released a statement Tuesday, saying “Nelson Piquet Jr. recently communicated an offensive and derogatory term that cannot be tolerated in our sport. NASCAR’s Code of Conduct explicitly spells out in the 2013 rule book our position regarding the use of disparaging terms. We expect our entire industry to abide by this code.”
Time for gay and lesbian NASCAR fans to do a victory lap.