Oh, this is just wonderful.
Nationwide driver Brendan Gaughan's crew chief, Bryan Berry, has been suspended by NASCAR for using a racial slur involving driver Marc Davis, who is black. Davis and Gaughan whacked into each other during what should have been a routine pit stop for Gaughan. He later called Davis's move "asinine," and it apparently ended there. Ah, if only.
According to two separate observers, Berry came off his pit box and used the offending word while walking toward Davis. There's no indication that he used the word when he leaned into Davis's car to get into Davis's face. (NASCAR has not specified what slur was used, and we're not going to speculate here, are we?)
From there, it's become a battle of press releases. Davis, who is 19, declined to comment himself, but his father Harry issued a statement that read, “NASCAR has clear and precise policies covering all racing conduct and procedures. Mr. Gaughan and his crew actions do not merit response. NASCAR has resolved the issue.”
Gaughan's team is owned by Rusty Wallace Inc., which released a statement of its own: "RWR requires all of our team members to adhere to the highest levels of personal conduct at all times while representing our organization and its partners. We will accept absolutely nothing less."
Which is wonderful and perfect and exactly what they're supposed to say. To which I would add: get your freaking house in order. This is exactly the kind of thing that sets NASCAR back generations. Shoot, take a look at the comments on our Vickers/NYC post -- it's filled with lines from people who still view NASCAR as the haven of inbred toothless racists. Berry just gave these types their yearly ammunition for their cause.
I get that he was ticked. I would be, too. But he's in a high-profile position, and that carries certain responsibilities of conduct. It's not a free speech issue; it's a consequences issue. Berry or anybody else is free to say whatever they like, but they're not free from the harsh consequences that should result if they smear the name of their team and their sport.
I'd love to see a rainbow coalition of colors and genders driving in NASCAR; I don't care what your particular demographic is, if you can drive, you can drive. But idiotic statements like Berry's just further cement the backward perception of NASCAR. Yes, I know I'm giving it plenty of publicity here, but I certainly hope that this is viewed as what it is -- the angry pop-off of one guy, not a glance into the dank cellar beneath NASCAR's gleaming, sponsored exterior.
Posted Jun 24 2012
Posted Jun 24 2012
Posted Jun 23 2012