UPDATE: SCROLL TO BOTTOM OF STORY FOR STATEMENT FROM REDBULL RACING AND LINK TO RESPONSE BY JEREMY FULLER
It had been an incredible weekend at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. I was flying high – having spent another weekend at the NASCAR races but as I was leaving the track….. it all changed. Several anti-gay tweets by a member of the Red Bull Racing Team clipped my wings sending me crashing back to earth.
Let me start by saying that I have been covering NASCAR since September 2009 as Queers4Gears and this is the first instance of gay prejudice that I have encountered. Contrary to what many might think – the NASCAR community has been very accepting.
In fact, earlier that day I posted a profile of an openly gay person that work for Michael Waltrip Racing. Craig Wadsworth, the team chef, has been “out” and working in the sport for over 20 years. Turns out, it isn’t a big deal – no one seems to mind – because Craig does his job well. You know….. how it SHOULD be!
The story got a lot of traffic and it was another example of how “open” NASCAR really is. That is why the tweets from the Red Bull Team member stung even more – coming out the same day as my story.
Jeremy Fuller, (@fullerjeremy) who works for the Red Bull Racing Team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series let loose several hateful tweets as he was leaving the track in Sonoma.
San Francisco’s Gay PRIDE Celebration was being held the same weekend as the races and as Jeremy was in traffic heading to the airport he saw a van with a homemade sign.
The sign had a rainbow on it the words, “On Our Way to SF Gay PRIDE” Fuller tweeted a picture of the sign with the comment, “This is way (sic) I don’t live here.”
I wondered if he knew there are gay people located outside of the San Francisco Bay Area? In fact, the same day, Salisbury, NC – in the heart of where most NASCAR teams’ call home – celebrated that cities first annual Gay PRIDE Celebration.
But then it got worse – and it is where I think Fuller crossed a line.
One of Jeremy’s followers (@gofastharvick29) saw the sign and sent Fuller a tweet saying, “yea if we could get rid of them it’d be a lot better.”
To that Fuller tweeted this reply: “lol.. Don’t we all wish!!”
LOL?? Anyone who follows me on twitter knows I have a pretty sordid sense of humor – but since when did violence against anyone become funny?
It should be noted these tweets were not generated from the official Red Bull Racing Team’s account. This was a personal twitter account for one of Red Bull’s employee’s – but at the time these tweets were posted: Jeremy’s bio stated: “ #NASCAR Tire changer @redbullnascar NASCAR Nationwide Series Turner Motorsports NASCAR Truck Series Turner Motorsports.”
The tweets were removed late Sunday night as well as any mention of NASCAR or Red Bull in his bio.
NASCAR’s Code of Conduct states: “A NASCAR Member shall not make or cause to be made a public statement and/or communication that criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping condition.”
I reached out to Red Bull Racing, Red Bull USA and NASCAR – they did not respond to a request for comment.
Again, this is the first example of any anti-gay “speech” that I have come across since I started covering this sport. So let’s step back and take a look at the big picture. The tweets of one guy should not reflect on the entire sport.
The director of Marketing for Red Bull Racing just sent me this statement. They were taking time to complete an internal investigation: ”Red Bull Racing Team was made aware of comments posted to a contractor’s Twitter account following this weekend’s race. After investigating the matter, Red Bull Racing Team terminated the contractor’s employment effective immediately. The race team regularly conducts diversity training and strictly enforces our team policies against any form of discrimination. We have zero tolerance for such violations and in no way support any of the comments posted by this individual.”