On September 25, Nelson Piquet Jr. posted a comment to fellow Nationwide Series driver Parker Kilgerman's instagram selfie after a workout. His comment consisted of the anti-gay F-word. Kilgerman is said to have "laughed it off with a comment of his own."
This comment when a follower/fan snapped a screen shot of the Instagram conversation. The fan, Matthew Breuer, called Piquet out on his homophobic comment on Twitter. Piquet Jr. described the incident as being "no big deal". He is also quoted saying on Twitter, "Don't act like you've never called your friends names before. We're not living in the 50's anymore bud..jokes are jokes." (Kilgerman's post has since been deleted.)
NASCAR soon became aware of this exchange, and Piquet was held accountable for his actions. Senior VP at NASCAR, Steve O'Donnell, said "Nelson Piquet Jr. recently comunicated an offenseive and derogatory term that cannot be tolerated in our sport." He continues to explain that the 2013 rule book book of NASCAR"s Code of Conduct explicitly states:
"A NASCAR member shall not make or cause to be made a public statment and/or comment that criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that peron's race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping conidition."
NASCAR has fined Piquet $10,000 and he is order to attend sensitivity traning. Tuner Scott Motorsports, the team that Piquet Jr.drives for released a statment this afternoon: "We have spoken to Nelson about his insensitive comment and he understands that such remarks are not tolerated at Turner Scott Motosports. TSM expects those asssociated with the team to uphold professional standards that we can all be proud of. Nelson has assured the team that he has learned his lesson and he knows what it means to represent TSM."
In addition to the teams statement, USA Today Sports quoted Nelson's apology: "I sincerely apologize to everyone for my poor choice of words last week. I did not mean to hurt or offend anyone. This has been a cultural learning experince that will make me a more sensitive person moving forward."
NASCAR is going in the right direction by holding it's drivers accountable for the actions on and off the track. NASCAR drivers are are not only professional atheltes in their sports, they are role models as well. NASCAR's Code of Conduct holds their athletes to be respectful of all people and they have shown through this particular incident that they hold true to their words.
NASCAR has been supportive of LGBT equality. In 2012, NASCAR's diversity program, along with five other prominent American major sports leagues, showed their support with GLAAD for Spirit Day, a day to stand against bullying and to show their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. GLAAD invites everyone, including NASCAR, celebrities, organizations, media outlets, and millions of people to go purple on October 17 as we celebrate Spirit Day!