Wednesday, October 02, 2013

COMMENTARY: Piquet Sanctions Show NASCAR Still Has Work To Do

Nelson Piquet, Jr.
Stupidity can be expensive.

NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Nelson Piquet, Jr. was fined $10,000 by NASCAR yesterday, placed on indefinite probation and required to participate in sensitivity training in the aftermath of a recent Twitter comment that violated the sanctioning body’s Code of Conduct. 

The incident began when NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Parker Kligerman posted a photo of himself after a recent workout.
Piquet – by all accounts a close friend of Kligerman’s -- responded with a single, three-letter word best classified as a homophobic slur.
That comment caught the attention of NASCAR fan Matthew Breuer, who tweeted, Will be disappointed if @NASCAR doesn’t take action against @NelsonPiquet’s homophobic slur – should have no place in our sport.”
Piquet responded to Breuer’s comment, saying, “Maybe u should know Parker is a personal friend of mine. If you look properly we have other pictures making fun of each other.”
Breuer rejected that explanation, saying, “Big difference between making fun and using an offensive slur w/o care. Directly offends #LGBT fans. They deserve better.”
Piquet fired back again, tweeting, Don’t act like you’ve never called your friends names before. We’re not living in the 50s anymore bud. Jokes are Jokes.”
NASCAR is clearly not laughing.
Senior Vice President Steve O’Donnell called Piquet’s comment, “an offensive and derogatory term that cannot be tolerated in our sport,” as well as a violation of NASCAR’s Code of Conduct. That Code states that “a NASCAR Member shall not make or cause to be made a public statement and/or communication that criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping condition.”
Piquet apologized in a written statement yesterday, saying, “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 experience that will make me a more sensitive person moving forward."
There is no question that Piquet’s comment was ill-advised. He can arguably speak however he likes in private conversation with his friends, but a highly visible professional athlete should know better than to use such a term in an open, public forum.
He should also know better than to try and defend it. As Piquet himself stated, “We’re not living in the `50s anymore.”
Perhaps Piquet is right. Perhaps his comments can be attributed to simple cultural differences. Perhaps the word he used is less taboo in his native Brazil than it is in the United States of America. Societal differences may explain what happened last week, but they do not excuse.
NASCAR’s handling of the incident has also come in for criticism.
In February of this year, Nationwide Series driver Jeremy Clements was suspended indefinitely by the sanctioning body for uttering a racial slur. Despite making those comments in a private conversation that never saw the light of day, Clements missed two races while undergoing sensitivity training. He was not fined.
Piquet will pay a $10,000 fine, but is expected to compete in this weekend’s Nationwide Series race at Kansas Speedway, driving for Turner Motorsports.
No one would argue that homophobic comments are more (or less) severe than racial slurs.NASCAR’s Code of Conduct makes no differentiation between race, color and sexual orientation, and there should be no difference in the sanctions applied.
Perhaps we’ve all got a little more work to do.


  1. Dave, there are plenty of people who would argue that homophobic comments are less severe than racial slurs. That itself may explain the inconsistency in the sanctions from NASCAR.

  2. Anonymous1:07 PM

    Spot on Dave Moody. I am Latino. Not Mexican. Yet too many people call me Mexican. In fact it is very offensive to me. Its like calling a German Russian. OE an Irish, English. Better yet its like calling a Bostonian a Yankee fan.
    This comment by Piquet could not go unpunished. True we are not in the 50's anymore in fact we are now more aware of individuals oday than in the 50's. Close your eyes and put our selves in the shoes of Mr. Wendell Scott. Live life to follow a dream and always be behind the eight ball just because of the color of your skin, or because you were not born here.
    Sure we all have our home town pride and it defines us. But to destroy the life of others for it, that is not right.
    I applaud my NASCAR for the actions to correct, no, punish this bad deed.
    What gravitates me to your blog and to your show is hrespect you have for all. Some people say "He Loves to attack"
    I say " NO he does not." He respect you enought to challenge your thoughts and bring out the best thought from you. For that Dave Moody, I salute you. Even if you Live the Red Sox. Hey, your Human not perfect.
    In your audiance always,

    J. Jerry Santos
    NASCAR Fan
    SeriusXM Speedway Fan
    Owner Operator Truck Driver
    100% Tejano

  3. Anonymous1:14 PM

    There was time when GAY meant Happy ? Perhaps he was taken out of context ? LGBT , what ?? Come on these people are trying to shove their lifestyles down our throats , get over it !

    1. Anonymous9:44 AM

      I don't believe that the word he used was "gay", which makes your argument a bit incorrect.

  4. Anonymous1:17 PM

    You are right. He should't have said it in a public forum (being a highly visable athlete and all) but the truth is guys that age (and younger) do say that too each other, Ithe guy is a friend of his so I don't think he said it to intentionally hurt someone.

  5. NASCAR is being money hungry. 20 years ago, using the word might have been a no no. Well its not 20 years ago, so NASCAR get over yourself. This was two guys bantering each other, period. As much as I dislike Nelson, I do not think this was appropriate at all, NASCAR give him the money back and grow up.

  6. Anonymous2:33 PM

    Its none of nascars business. He should take the bastards to court.

  7. Anonymous2:54 PM

    You are right Dave, same rule was broken, should be the same punishment !! As always well said.

  8. Anonymous3:17 PM

    Dear Dave, good afternoon. My name is Paulo Lava. I am from Brazil and I work as motorsports writer (RACING magazine and Pit Stop newspaper, the media outlets I work for). I enjoyed your article. However, I would like to add a little footnote for your acquaintance. As you may know, Nelson Piquet Senior -- Piquet Jr.'s father -- had a long (13 years) and remarkable career in Formula One (3 world titles). During the seasons he was there, Piquet Senior stated 'lotza' negative comments to his F1 colleagues (Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell and Rene Arnoux, his favorite 'targets'); due the fact that I have a large library of F1 magazines.and newspapers, I can assure you about that. And, as far as I am concerned he never received any fine or even penalty from his bosses (Mrs. Frank Williams and Bernie Ecclestone). Then, after his accident at the 1992 Indy 500 practice, Piquet Sr. returned to Brazil and raced some endurance races at the BMW official team. I can say that he kept his manner of express 'negative' comments to others drivers and... no one penalized him. I guess that his son saw daddy do things and MAYBE said.. why not? And, for closing: no, I do not agree with any kind of homophobic or racial comments. I am only bringing to these conversation some stuff I guess you and your readers would like to know.
    Thank you very much for your kind attention to this message,
    Kind regards,

    Paulo Lava

  9. Anonymous5:48 PM

    Love the "anonymous" toughguys who say "get over it" and "take em' to court". Guess it's hard to put your name on it when you in a closet ;-)

    Drew Hough
    Orlando FL

  10. Anonymous7:02 PM

    Yet Clint Bowyer gets nothing from Nascar last year when he used the word Retard.

  11. Sorry, but NASCAR has no business punishing people for bloodthirsty commentary over Twitter or in conversation - sensitivity training is thought control and any kind of thought control has no place in any society. So Nelson Piquet said what he said - what right does any lobby for societal entitlement (and that's what LGBT is about - it's not about upholding "rights" that never existed to start with) have to object?

    How about instead those people professing being offended re-learn the tried and true response of growing a thick skin?

  12. Anonymous7:55 PM

    Why is it not take for what it is? off the cuff comment not meant to offend. If NASCAR is going to fine Piquet than they need to be consistent!!!

  13. Anonymous9:28 PM

    this shows that at least not every celebrity accepts and encourages it. Me and my friends say that to each other all the time and we know its a joke. so many celebritys say 'speak your mind' and then bash you cause its 'hurtful'

  14. Anonymous9:36 PM

    Good grief, I swear these people are idiots for using twitter, it just makes a cause for somebody to get "offended". Sad times. And everybody needs to be punished!!! LOL, let us all look in the mirror!

  15. Anonymous11:16 PM

    once again the totally malignant cancer known as political correctness rears it's ugly head

  16. Anonymous3:57 AM

    A "homophobic" slur?? Phobia suggests a fear of something. There's no evidence that Piquet fears homosexuals. I understand you journalists are all boxed in a PC world, but come on there's no need to call it a "phobia". I understand that's the current buzz word to bash whoever says anything remotely offensive to those that go out of their way to be "offended" now days.

  17. Anonymous8:20 AM

    OK everyone.... new code word for "gay" is "happy".

  18. Anonymous8:37 AM

    I would like to know how in the hell the word "gay" is offensive to anyone who is gay. THEY CALL THEMSELVES GAY!!!! I am so sick and tired of society dictating what words come out of our mouths these days. Society today is so thin-skinned and spineless that some feel that they have to be the "word police". Grow a spine and quit waiting for others to stick up for you. Nascar was WRONG and should have stayed out of it.
    BTW, when someone signs their comment "anonymous", its probably the only option they have to post the comment. What makes you think that anyone that can sign a name is actually signing their real name. WAKE UP !!!

    1. "Gay" was not the word he used.

  19. Anonymous9:47 AM

    Why is everyone in the world just sitting around looking for a reason to be offended. I am an old, fat, white (Scott/Irish), bald red-neck with no college degree. Everyday out in society, on television and radio I hear people use slurs, make jokes and derogatory comments regarding every one of my characteristics. I have never called the police, hired an attorney or sent a letter of complaint. Young people think they are smarter than old people, skinny people think they look better than fat people, guys with good hair think they look better than me, black people and folks from other races think they have better ideas than white people, Northern people and Mid-Westerners think Southern Rednecks are illiterate, all of my friends with college degrees think they are more intelligent than me (even though I make more money). I respect all of their opinions and free speech rights. Why can't people respect mine. Most of my friends are white. That does not make me a racist. I disagree with the gay lifestyle. That does not make me homophobic. At what point in history did we get to the point where a persons preferences become prejudices? At what point do we wake up and realize that the people who are always crying "foul" are just looking for monetary gain or pushing their agenda. I don't hate anyone and I want everyone in this country that is willing to work hard to succeed. Stop trying to ride your race, sexual preference or stereotype to the top. Develop your talents and abilities and go be successful, then the people that don't like you will have to look up to you instead of down at you whether they like it or not. America has become the punchline for the world because of issues like the one in this article. And yes, I am anonymous because in the day and time in which we live, people who do not agree with the main-stream (politically correct) get targeted and persecuted when exercising free speech. I don't need intolerant cowards running around harassing my wife and children because of my "preferences".
    Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.

  20. Anonymous10:06 AM

    Being "tolerant" has somehow turned into promoting the 'lifesyle'. As a point of reference, about 65 million years ago, the Dino Disney Channel told their viewers it was alright to be gay. Now where are the dinosaurs!lol Where will we be soon? Tolerant may equal extinction.

  21. Anonymous1:43 PM

    I'm more upset about NASCAR only penalizing Penske and Logano 6 pts. They should've stripped them of the win, and disallow Logano from racing in the NW. Larson, the best finishing legal car really won, and an illegal car with a Cup driver stole a win from a real NW driver.

  22. Anonymous2:33 PM

    I believe NASCAR was correct to fine Nelson,clearly he did not learn from the Jeremy Clements ordeal. If they do not learn then maybe NSACR but increase the penalty until the guys and girls get it. The drivers are looked up to by kids, NASCAR is supposed to be a family sport, they should police what is said in a public domain. I do not want to hear about a drivers predjuices be they real or perceived.
    In saying all of that, I am suprised his sponsor did not make a comment. If I were the sponsor I know I would.

    Brad Lewis

  23. F. Andy Grenx5:08 PM

    Geeze... if NASCAR is that offended by 3 little letters, Maybe I should change all of my ticket buying accounts to my Full Name!! Yes I know the word that was used by Nelson, It happens to be the 3 letters That begin my first, middle, and Last name. Maybe I will change my account names at the tracks to F.A.Grenz! The fact that is my name and the Negative attitude toward those 3 little letter has never bothered me! It's just letters! I am a 60 year old, 6 ft. tall, 245lb. truck driver! and have been called the name for years, Never once did I sue or penalize anybody for saying it!! By the way, I am a father of 5 and have 20 grandkids!! Just sayin' ... Get over it NASCAR! Stop drinking the Kool-Aid!!