In the United States, a driver was suspended from racing not for an infraction, nor for words, nor for a fight (which is not uncommon in NASCAR), but for likes on a social network. Noah Gragson is a 25-year-old from Las Vegas who had eight wins in the Xfinity Series (NASCAR League Two) last year and became runner-up. In 2023, Noah spent his first full season in the premier league of stock car racing, the NASCAR Cup Series.
But careless action on social media, and Gragson was initially suspended by the Legacy Motor Club, the team the racer played for, and soon NASCAR canceled his license. Therefore, at the moment, Noah, in principle, does not have the right to compete under the auspices of the national stock car racing association.
We understand how normal and fair this is. Spoiler: okay. And even in general it is fair.
private team matter
First of all, it should be noted that Gragson didn’t just like a meme, but an image that mocks the death of George Floyd while in police custody. The picture was made on the basis of a frame from the cartoon “The Little Mermaid”: Sebastian the crab was retouched with Photoshop with Floyd’s head and signed with the words “below the knee” (below the knee), instead of “under water”. (under the sea) from the original song. You can treat Floyd however you want, but this meme is a mockery of a person’s death.
And the Legacy Motor Club team decided that they did not want to cooperate with a pilot who is capable of publicly mocking the death of a person. Any racing team has many partners, not only equipment and consumables suppliers, but also sponsors. With the latter’s money he exists, pays employees and rents housing for them on the road. Racing is a team sport, and here the driver works for the team, not the other way around.
Noah Gragson on stage at Pocono
Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images
In great motorsport, the driver not only drives a car, he is also the advertising space of the team in a broad sense, he represents not only his partners, but also his values. Mocking over a person’s death doesn’t seem to apply to the Legacy Motor Club’s values, which means that cooperation with Gragson for the team becomes impossible. Is it legit? Surely there was a clause in the pilot’s contract about proper behavior and the prohibition of actions that damage the team or its image, it’s great in this case.
Freedom of expression? And the freedom of the Legacy Motor Club not to be associated with a cheated death? By signing a contract with the team, the pilot voluntarily gives up part of his freedoms; it is understood that the pilot will not publicly criticize her or expose her to fans in a disadvantageous way. If this approach does not suit the athlete, he can look for another team or create his own. But racing is still a team sport, and it’s the teams that put together the cars.
Crash at Martinsville:
The pilot crashed into the wall on purpose to overtake the five! Why do you want to ban this?
But what about the suspension from NASCAR, because it actually means a ban from the profession? Firstly, it should be noted that no such bans were imposed on Noah, and secondly, the suspension is not indefinite, there are understandable scenarios for restoring the license. After all, Gragson isn’t being sued, jailed, or kicked out of the country, it’s just that a particular company doesn’t want to do business with a particular person. He has the right to.
It’s important to emphasize that NASCAR is, like teams, a commercial organization and also needs sponsors. When issuing the licenses to the participants, the association in the same way requires signing that none of the team representatives will cause damage to the image or any other damage to their interests. What’s more, Gragson’s suspension is far from the most high-profile case in recent NASCAR history.
Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
In the midst of the Covid pandemic in 2020, Kyle Larson was suspended from racing for a bad joke on an internet broadcast. Larson — сам, к слову, потомок интернированных японцев, настраивая связь с инженером, в шутку употре бил слово «nigger». The contract with the racer was immediately terminated by the Chip Ganassi Racing team, his license was canceled by NASCAR. Over the next year, Larson went through NASCAR’s rehabilitation program, attending seminars and speaking at events explaining the importance of language control.
The racer did not sit idle – he competed in sprint car races on dirt tracks, which were held under the auspices of USAC, he defeated everyone and kept himself in shape. And already in October Kyle’s license was recovered, in the 2021 season he played for Hendrick Motorsports and was proclaimed Cup Series champion. The same path now awaits Gragson.
More on Larson’s return:
The pilot was banned from racing due to a word that accidentally went on air. From bottom to wins, in one year!
Noah has already issued a statement saying he has asked the Legacy Motor Club to permanently release him from his contract to complete the NASCAR program. “I will do everything I can to make the family, the team and the fans proud of me again,” Noah added.
A similar incident won’t be a fatal blow to the driver’s career: He has a chance to return and continue to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series. And if it’s more important to Noah to prove himself at the highest level of stock car racing, he’ll sacrifice the right to like everything on the Internet. And maybe even win the title.
Stock car racing began with bootlegging:
In the US, moonshine was still awarded for the All-Star Race victory. What about the strange prize?