CHARLOTTE, NC—NASCAR took direct and immediate action Wednesday in response to homophobic slurs made by driver Kyle Busch last weekend, levying an award of $50,000 to the popular Sprint Cup star.
NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said he had reviewed the incident, in which Busch was caught on videotape uttering several common antigay words and phrases after Saturday’s Sprint All-Star race, and found Busch's conduct "insensitive, uneducated, unenlightened, and in keeping with the finest traditions of stock car racing."
"This perfectly exemplifies what NASCAR is all about," Potson told reporters. "We believe that Mr. Busch's ignorant comments are reflective of our organization as a whole and, furthermore, that Mr. Busch is the personification of the sort of family-oriented everyday American values for which our sport is known."
“Congratulation, Kyle,” Poston added. “I thank you. NASCAR thanks you. Its fans thank you. And I hope there are many more derogatory slurs against homosexuals to come.”
Top NASCAR public relations and fan-outreach personnel will reportedly meet with Busch before Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 to present him with an official letter of commendation and a check for the full amount of his award.
The incident in question transpired following Saturday’s race, in which Busch finished second to Carl Edwards after starting from the pole position. TV cameras caught Busch calling Edwards by a common three-letter antigay epithet in the victory lane, and when Edwards' fans objected, Busch addressed the crowd with similarly homophobic phrases.
According to officials and fans on the scene, the agitated Busch then used various disparaging anti-homosexual terms to refer to Edwards' crew chief, car, and sponsors; used many of the same slurs when describing his own underperforming No. 18 Toyota; and even turned his sexual-orientation-based pejorative language on himself, saying that his yellow M&Ms racing coveralls made him look like "a fucking queer."
“Once Kyle made those hurtful remarks, our offices notified him immediately, congratulated him, and ordered him to make a statement of apology for not yelling even more antigay epithets,” said NASCAR code of conduct chairwoman Wendy Opperman, adding that if Busch had continued his bigoted tirade, NASCAR would have awarded him an additional $50,000. “In fact, because of the sensitive nature of this case, we watched the tapes multiple times to make sure we correctly logged all the times he said ‘fucking faggot.’ We wanted to be certain Mr. Busch got the reward he deserved.”
“Going forward, we do worry Mr. Busch will have a tough time handling his image,” Opperman continued. “He’s not just a driver anymore. To the NASCAR community, he’s a hero.”
Feeling pressure to respond to the publicity generated by Busch’s remarks, NASCAR officials confirmed the driver would be the centerpiece of the organization’s new “Don’t Be a Fag” campaign, which urges young people to call each other antigay names whenever possible, especially during school.
Furthermore, in order to cement NASCAR’s official position on the gay community, Busch's fellow drivers will reportedly join him in the minute-long advertisements, not just to show their support for the talented young racer, but to show that the sport is unified in its message.
"I think it’s a good thing for NASCAR to get out there and say, ‘It’s just plain wrong not to be a hurtful bigot,’” Sprint Cup Series veteran Tony Stewart said. "I’d like to think I'd have the courage to say what Kyle said out there Saturday. In fact, I'm pretty sure I would have. You've seen Carl Edwards' fruity little backflip thing he does, right? Pretty damn gay."
"It's hard to believe there was a time when this kind of behavior was frowned upon in our sport," Stewart added. "I mean, I guess there really wasn't, was there? Yeah, didn't think so."
Not everyone in the NASCAR community is happy about the organization’s recent glorification of Busch, with many saying he’s only getting recognition because he’s a star, and pointing out that “tons of us say shit like that about faggots every day and no one cuts us a big check.” Meanwhile, Busch himself is taking more of a philosophical view of events.
"I'm on probation now anyway for flipping off an official or swearing on the radio or in front of camera or some bullshit, so this 50 grand just kind of makes me and NASCAR even,” Busch said. "Man, I really wish those fags in Charlotte would quit tossing each other's salads and just let us do our thing when we're not at work, because the current code of conduct just sucks about a mile of cock."
Busch was then fined $50,000 for what NASCAR is calling "an unprofessional and unwarranted criticism of the Sprint Cup Series and its rules and practices."