NASCAR and MotorSports – From a Queer Perspective

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Commentary: NASCAR’s Penalty to Piquet Jr. a Good Step – but Not Enough

credit Getty Images for NASCAR

Can you be happy with someone’s actions – and disappointed at the same time?

I am.

Earlier today NASCAR issued a fine and penalty to driver Nelson Piquet Jr. for homophobic comments he posted on Instagram.

The driver was fined $10K, placed on indefinite probation and will be required to attend sensitivity training.

While I do applaud NASCAR for taking immediate action to enforce their stated Code of Conduct……… I do not think their penalty went far enough.

Earlier this season, driver Jeremy Clements was suspended indefinitely for making a racial slur.  Clements ended up serving a two-week suspension for comments made in passing while speaking with a reporter from MTV.

So if you are keeping score at home:  a racial slur will get you suspended while making a homophobic remark will warrant probation and a monetary fine.

To be fair, when it comes to penalties of any ilk – NASCAR isn’t known for their consistency.  Be it restarts or questionable parts on the race car – NASCAR’s rulings have been all over the map.

NASCAR’s inconsistency does make it appear that one type of insensitive remark is worse than the other.  I feel the sport would have been better served to have treated both of these cases equally.

However, the actions taken by NASCAR today do mark improvement from their previous record on offensive comments made towards LGBT people.

In 2011, a member of the Red Bull Racing team made homophobic remarks on Twitter after the race in Sonoma.   After that race, crew member Jeremy Fuller posted a picture on Twitter of a van he saw in traffic with Gay Pride Signs in their window.  Fuller tweeted, “This is why I don’t live here.”

That tweet by Fuller inspired a fan to reply saying ” Yeah, if we could get rid of them it’d be a lot better.”  Fuller then replied to that fan saying “lol….Don’t we all wish.”

After Fuller’s tweets, his Red Bull Racing Team immediately fired him.

But NASCAR was silent.  There was no fine, no suspension, no required sensitivity training.  NASCAR did nothing.  While Fuller was fired by Red Bull, NASCAR’s lack of action allowed him to be hired by another team shortly thereafter.

Progress is progress!  While I do feel NASCAR should have gone further today – I do appreciate the fact that they took any action at all.

People have asked me today if I was personally offended by Piquet’s comments…..  NO, I was not offended by Piquet’s use of the word “fag,” – I am offended that in today’s society, that word is tossed around so freely.  That word does hurt.

You, nor I, could use that word at work without consequences.

When NASCAR, or other employers, enforce their Codes of Conduct and punish those that use that word……… I can only help it helps to send that word to the garbage heap and foster a culture that won’t toss it around so freely.



Category: NASCAR