The roar of the engines and the roar of the crowd. The brightly colored multiple-decal-emblazoned mechanical beasts of speed racing around the track. There is something special about NASCAR that fans and sponsors, for generations, have loved.
But one sponsor, Lilly Diabetes, has lost a little love for one of the drivers, yanking their sponsorship over a racial slur. The problem is, the driver they withdrew sponsorship from didn’t make the comment they found offensive, The Blaze reported.
Conor Daly was born in 1991 to a racing family, his father being Irish former Formula One driver Derek Daly. Recently, some scandal resurfaced regarding a racial slur used in the 80s by Derek.
However, according to a statement from Derek published by The Indianapolis Star, there is far more to the story than had been told. Derek states that some falsehoods have been claimed about what happened all those years ago.
“Last night WISH-TV severed ties with me after former sports broadcaster Bob Lamey apparently inaccurately attributed a racial slur to me during an interview in the early 80’s,” Derek Daly said. “It was reported on their web site that I confirmed this.”
“Both of these reports are factually incorrect,” he explained. “On this subject, I was never interviewed by Bob Lamey. The slanderous statements made by Bob, and now being attributed to me, are not only factually incorrect, but offensive.”
In his statement, Derek explained what really happened. He also shared what he actually said all those years ago:
“The facts are: 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.”
He went on to explain that through his career, he has acquired “good friends and colleagues from almost every race, nationality, and religion,” and suggested some of those invidials be asked about his character.
Henry reached out to The Star and confirmed that the phrase had been used by Derek in an interview with him, but that wasn’t the only corroboration The Star received regarding Daly’s statement.
“Willy T. Ribbs, the first African-American to compete in the Indy 500, provided IndyStar with a message supporting Daly,” The Star reported.
Although Conor wasn’t even born until years after the comment his father made 30 years ago, Lilly Diabetes saw fit to withdraw its sponsorship from him over it. In a statement published via Twitlonger by NASCAR wire service stringer Chris Knight, the drug company explained that it “remain committed to our mission of supporting people with diabetes.”
They also shared why they pulled their sponsorship from Conor, who actually has Type I diabetes.
“Our sponsorship in Saturday’s race is intended to raise awareness of treatment options and resources for people living with diabetes,” the company claimed. “Unfortunately, the comments that surfaced this week by Derek Daly distract from this focus, so we have made the decision that Lilly Diabetes will no longer run the No. 6 at Road America this weekend.”
Conor also used social media to express his own thoughts on the matter:
The last 24hrs have been quite an unnecessarily difficult ride for my family. There is A LOT I want to say… but I’m still here and still racing. I appreciate the support from @roushfenway and ALL of you. @LillyDiabetes has been a big part of my career and Im very thankful. #6
— Conor Daly (@ConorDaly22) August 24, 2018
Some commenting on his tweet joked that they may now have to “pay” for liking his tweet many years down the road. Or worse, that their children will.
Interestingly, while they have pulled support, no tweet about pulled sponsorship appears on Lilly Diabetes’ timeline. Additionally, what does appear are tweets dated just prior to the pulled sponsorship showing support for Conor.
.@ConorDaly22 has been working hard to successfully transition to @NASCAR at the upcoming @roadamerica race. We’re excited to see him and @driverRyanReed race together this weekend! #teamdiabetes pic.twitter.com/I7200GpPtA
— Lilly Diabetes (@LillyDiabetes) August 21, 2018
The following day, the company put out another tweet of support for Conor, including yet another video clip with him:
.@ConorDaly22 is taking on his first @NASCAR race this weekend! Check out the latest Road to @roadamerica episode to see how he has been training for this big day. https://t.co/ifPoha900v pic.twitter.com/M7a0LhBUlY
— Lilly Diabetes (@LillyDiabetes) August 22, 2018
To the casual observer, it could appear that the company fully backs this young driver. The casual observer could be completely unaware that it had just pulled its sponsorship over something his father said years before he was even born.
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