NASCAR Driver Loses Sponsorship for Insane Reason

Conor Daly prepares to drive during a practice session for the IndyCar Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Thursday, May 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Conor Daly prepares to drive during a practice session for the IndyCar Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Thursday, May 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

 

Up front, I don’t follow auto racing. At one time, I watched NASCAR but I haven’t done that since the days when Cale Yarborough was driving the Number 11 Olds for Junior Johnson’s outfit. So bear with me if I make some errors here.

Conor Daly is a successful Indy car driver who is scheduled to make his NASCAR debut in the NASCAR Xfinity race at Road America in Plymouth, Wisconsin. One of his sponsors was — the operative word here is “was” — Lilly Diabetes, a part of Pharma giant Eli Lilly.

Lilly Diabetes has pulled its sponsorship of Conor Daly’s No. 6 car in the NASCAR Xfinity race at Road America, citing a racially insensitive remark made by the driver’s father in the 1980s that surfaced this week.

Apparently, Daly’s father, Formula One driver Derek Daly, was on a radio show sometime shortly after he had immigrated to America (legally) and before Conor Daly was born. While on the radio show he seems to have used the “n-word.”

In the early 80’s, after I had recently relocated to the United States, I was interviewed by radio reporter Larry Henry and I was asked about my situation with my new American team. I responded by explaining that I was a foreign driver now in America, driving for an American team, with an American crew, and with an American sponsor – and that if things did not go well, the only ‘n’ in the wood pile” would be me. At the time, I meant that I, as the new foreigner on the team, would shoulder the blame and I would be the scapegoat. This was not in any way shape or form meant to be a racial slur. This phrase was commonly used in Ireland, Britain, and Australia.

When I used that phrase in the early 80’s, I had no idea that in this country that phrase had a horribly different meaning and connotation, as it was commonplace in Ireland. After moving to the United States, I quickly learned what a derogatory term it was. When I was first informed of this, I was mortified at the offense I might have caused people. I have therefore never used the word since. I made this mistake once, but never again.

This is simply insane. Even without the extenuating and mitigating circumstances, what Conor Daly’s father said before he was born should not have any impact on him. Quite honestly, I don’t think any of us want to be held to that standard and neither do our children. If we’ve reached the point where this is the standard, then we’ve reached the point where we’ve become a society of idiots.