NASCAR driver Hailie Deegan found herself in a bit of a firestorm recently after she was overheard using a term that disparages those with intellectual disabilities during an iRacing event – a popular virtual racing series. The 19-year-old Ford Racing Development driver and soon-to-be NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitor issued a swift apology afterward via Twitter.
Earlier tonight I used an insensitive word during an online race being broadcast on twitch. It was inappropriate slang and a stupid thing to do. I apologize to everyone who was offended by it. There’s no excuse for it, and I know I have to do better for my sponsors and my fans.
— Hailie Deegan (@HailieDeegan) January 11, 2021
“Earlier tonight I used an insensitive word during an online race being broadcast on Twitch,” Deegan said. “It was inappropriate slang and a stupid thing to do. I apologize to everyone who was offended by it. There’s no excuse for it, and I know I have to do better for my sponsors and my fans.”
“We are aware of this inappropriate comment. Hailie immediately acknowledged this mistake, has apologized, and promised to be much more thoughtful in the future,” Ford Performance said in a statement.
As a result of this incident, NASCAR has also announced that Deegan will be required to take sensitivity training prior to the start of the 2021 season. The Twitch stream has since been deleted from her personal stream.
Hailie Deegan, the daughter of Motocross and X Games icon Brian Deegan, is a three-time winner in what is now called the ARCA Menards Series West and was the first female driver to ever win races in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. Deegan grew up competing in off-road racing but made the switch to stock car racing in 2016.
Deegan made her series debut with David Gilliland Racing last October at Kansas Speedway driving the number 17 Ford F-150. Now, she’s set to compete in her first season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series when it kicks off February 12th for the NextEra Energy 250 at Daytona International Speedway.