19-Year-Old NASCAR Driver Hailie Deegan Apologizes for Using Slur About People with Disabilities

NASCAR driver Hailie Deegan is facing criticism after she was recorded using a slur during an online racing event over the weekend.

The racing organization announced on Monday that Deegan will be required to take sensitivity training before the start of the 2021 season after she used a slur about those with special needs during an iRacing event on Sunday, which was broadcast over the popular video game streaming platform Twitch.

According to CBS Sports, Deegan used the word after her car was bumped by another racer.

"This is fun," she said. "Oh, ay, who's the r—– behind me? Don't do that please."

The term is hurtful to those with disabilities and can further stereotypes used against them — points that are captured in an essay posted on the Boston University website. The Special Olympics lists the word as a form of hate speech.

Deegan, a three-time winner in the ARCA Menards Series West, used Twitter to issue an apology for her use of the word.

"Earlier tonight I used an insensitive word during an online race being broadcast on Twitch," she said in a tweet on Sunday. "It was inappropriate slang and a stupid thing to do."

"I apologize to everyone who was offended by it," Deegan added. "There's no excuse for it, and I know I have to do better for my sponsors and my fans."

A similar controversy occurred last year in NASCAR when driver Kyle Larson was recorded saying the n-word during a virtual racing event.

Larson was suspended by NASCAR and told to attend sensitivity training, according to USA Today. He was also fired from Chip Ganassi Racing.

Larson issued a lengthy apology to his website after the incident, saying he did "a lot of reflecting."

"I realized how little I really knew about the African American experience in this country and racism in general," Larson, who is half Japanese, explained on his website in October. "Educating myself is something I should've done a long time ago, because it would've made me a better person – the kind of person who doesn't casually throw around an awful, racist word."

He was later reinstated by NASCAR after completing sensitivity training and signed with Hendrick Motorsports.

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