Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

NASCAR: Jeremy Clements’ Racial Slur Hurts More than Just Motor Sports


NASCAR suffered a devastating blow to it’s public image on Saturday when a crash caused severe injuries to several fans during a practice run of the first race in the Nationwide Series season. But to add to the unpleasantness of the weekend, NASCAR has suspended driver Jeremy Clements “indefinitely” after he reportedly used a racial slur in an interview.

“During the course of an interview, Jeremy Clements made an intolerable and insensitive remark,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. “NASCAR has a Code of Conduct that’s explicitly spelled out in the 2013 NASCAR Rule Book. We fully expect our entire industry to adhere to that Code.”

Clements issued an apology on his Facebook page that likely isn’t going to help matters:

“I apologize and regret what I said to the NASCAR writer and to NASCAR, my sponsors, my fans, and my team. NASCAR has a Code of Conduct that everyone must follow and I unintentionally violated that code. I will not get into specifics of what I said but my comment to the writer was in no way meant to be disrespectful or insensitive to anyone or to be detrimental to NASCAR or the NASCAR Nationwide Series. I will do what I need to do in order to atone for my error in judgment.”

It is not yet known exactly what slur was used by Clements, but the issue isn’t going to help people’s stereotypical views of what NASCAR represents. To those who fancy themselves “better” than NASCAR, the sport is nothing more than rednecks racing in a circle with other drunk rednecks watching. Like it or not, that’s still how more than a few people view the sport.

NASCAR just isn’t popular across the board in America, case in point being, you don’t see Tom Hanks or Billy Crystal with their faces presses up against the fence at a NASCAR race the way you see them plastered all over your television anytime the Knicks are on ABC.

Mandatory credit: Michael Hickey-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not a NASCAR fan, but I understand what it is. I understand that it’s something I could never do which is why people who judge it unfairly need to re-examine how they view the sport. It’s messy, it’s violent and it’s fast — kind of like every other professional sport in the world. But it’s that stereotypical undercurrent of what the South used to represent that is hurting the sports national appeal, and it’s stories like this that bury it even further into the ground than it already is.

Jeremy Clements isn’t helping NASCAR or race relations in this country, he’s severely damaging them even if he honestly didn’t mean to do so.

Are all NASCAR drivers racist, gun toting conservatives with Sean Hannity screaming inside their headphones — absolutely not. But when a guy like Jeremy Clements uses a racial slur, the gotcha liberals in the world feed off of it and point to it as a reason NASCAR is nothing more than redneck racing.

NASCAR has a not so glorious past when it comes to race relations, as they were so backwards on the matter that they refused to allow Wendell Scott to accept a trophy for a race he won. I railed against the NHL for locking itself out at a time when it’s popularity was finally being restored to what it was, but this is much worse than any lockout. NASCAR has ESPN behind it and it’s popularity is beginning to become national, so to have a driver vomit a racial slur in an interview is as stupid as it gets.

The headlines should be about how amazing it is to be a regular human being an drive what is essentially a metal cage at 200 mph and make it look easy. Instead the headlines today are about a driver using a racial slur.

This puts us in a sticky situation, as anyone who defends Clements comments as “an innocent mistake”, as Clements is trying to claim, will only further reflect the disconnect some people assume NASCAR fans have from reality. In his apology, Clements implies that he let the slur slip and even though we can’t hear or read what was said, judging from Clements apology the slur slip was a casual one.

It’s inexcusable to casually throw a racial slur into an interview and unless Clements’ comments have been horribly taken out of context, it appears that was the case and he’s being justly punished for it.

But the damage has been done and it will take more than a suspension to fix things. We all like to ignore the uglier side of our history and NASCAR would love nothing more than to pretend this incident didn’t happen, but the fact of the matter remains we live in the 21st century where we have newspapers on portable tablets and the ability to literally grow human life in a petri dish yet we are still can’t get past our racial intolerance.

Clements comments are his own, but they reflect a deeper issue in out country today, an issue we just can’t seem to get over and that’s the biggest tragedy of them all.

Tags: ESPN Jeremy Clements NASCAR

  • MrSluggo

    It was an ‘intolerable and insensitive’ remark if you read the statement NASCAR relaeased. The media has turned this into a ‘racist’ comment which it was not…his comments were directed at Danica Patrick.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Pulido/1342651802 Kevin Pulido

    I don’t agree with this cause we don’t know what the racial slur was. Did he call NASCAR or its drivers rednecks for did he use the F word calling NASCAR fixed. As a NASCAR fan I love the sport because of the way they treat there fans no photography restrictions or video but recently NASCAR remvoed the video of Saturdays nationwide wreck clamming it was copyrighted but it wasn’t. It looks like NASCAR could be trying to silence people and its pissing me off come out and say what he said cause right now it’s looking like NASCAR had to shut someone up and as a fan it’s hurtful to see what the sport is doing.

  • jworkley@bellsouth.net

    Josh Hill is an idiot. So your saying all us gun toting, Sean hannity listening conservatives are racist? What a jerk

  • disqus_ahLTkpLtY8

    The un-named reporter is Marty Beckerman, Google that piece of work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jimmy-Laing/1512436511 Jimmy Laing

    Don’t worry. As soon as we can pick individual channels instead of theme packs on our cable and satellite systems, this backwards, racist, hillbilly crap won’t have decent folks’ subscriber fees propping it up and, just like the confederacy itself, nascar will collapse under the weight of it’s own racism. Then I’ll say good riddance to bad rubbish!

  • Dover Delaware

    As supporters, friends, fans, and inquired minds speculate about “What did Jeremy say” that made NASCAR implement a penalty so severe to a
    driver that many are saying “Jeremy who?” has cause many rumors to fly around
    the media world. As I began to read the articles and comments as the story was breaking I was frustrated and sad that no party involved, NASCAR, Marty Beckerman the MTV reporter who has initiated this storm, nor Jeremy, had come out and explained or eluted to what was said that caused so much offense. Obviously most of us can understand why Jeremy isn’t saying it again or rephrasing it because he is the one in trouble. The exact words do not have to be repeated, but the phrase used should be defined or rephrased in such a way that the public can gather what he said. At this point everyone is guessing which only
    leads to more speculation and rumors.

    We should also look at who is Marty Beckerman and why has he reported what Jeremy Clements said to him, no less off the record in no formal interview, in a candid conversation as Jeremy was assisting him to find another racers hauler, to NASCAR as offensive? Was Marty offended by the comment? Was the comment directed to Marty? I can absolutely say Jeremy did not direct his comment to Marty nor refer to any particular person. The comment was used as a verb to describe an action. So who is Marty Beckerman and why was he at Daytona? Well according to his Twitter and online profile he has written for NY Times, Esquire, Atlantic, Salon, Daily Beast, Wired, Maxim, Playboy, and currently @MTV2GuyCode. Mr. Beckerman seems to be one of those controversial
    media reporters who like to get the dirt on people and only tell parts of the
    story that shock his audience, you know- similar to a bully. This
    was his first (and hope his last) NASCAR race and was in Daytona to write a
    story on Nationwide Driver Johanna Long and titled the story so appropriately
    (can you sense my sarcasm) ‘Breaking Babe’. As you read his story and interview it might come across how he is trying to highlight a female racer and her trials and tribulations in the male racing world, but his last question in the interview “Do you think there will ever be an all-female NASCAR league, or would that be as lame as the WNBA?” Could come off as offensive to women, or women who play basketball. But we all know what he meant by the phrase ‘lame
    as the WNBA’ right? So no one is going to sue or complain to MTV or the WNBA he used that phrase as derogatory towards women athletes right?

    Well some might equate the phrase Jeremy Clements used as the same type
    of derogatory phrase Marty Beckerman used for professional women athletes in an off the record candid conversation. The fact is Jeremy inappropriately used the ‘n’ word to describe an action, not a person nor directed to a person, and he has owned up to it and apologized and is accepting his punishment from NASCAR , willingly paying to take a course on sensitivity & cultural training, and continues to apologize directly to his fans, family, friends, and even strangers who do not know him.

    So who really is the villain here? Jeremy for being nice enough to escort the NASCAR employee and MTV reporter to their destination because they could not find it, or MTV reporter Marty Beckerman for taking a casual off the record, no planned interview, no reason for Jeremy to be talking to Marty Beckerman conversation and bullying NASCAR into handing down an indefinite suspension for something Jeremy said that Marty Beckerman probably has used himself…at least the articles he writes doesn’t make him any better than what Jeremy said. At
    least Jeremy has owned up to his mistake and has apologized. I hope Marty Beckerman has a decent bone in his body and can accept an apology and let bygones be bygones.