IndyCar driver gets ‘record’ number of death threats after Long Beach

Callum Ilott, Juncos Hollinger Racing, IndyCar (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Callum Ilott, Juncos Hollinger Racing, IndyCar (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Callum Ilott received a “new record” of death threats during and after Sunday afternoon’s IndyCar race on the streets of Long Beach, California.

Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott entered the third race of his second full IndyCar season sitting in seventh place in the point standings as one of only six drivers to have finished in the top 10 in both of the season’s first two races.

But it was a weekend to forget for the 24-year-old British driver on the streets of Long Beach, California, beginning with a practice shunt due to a miscommunication on IndyCar’s part and culminating with a 19th place finish and a drop to an 11th place tie in the standings.

Unfortunately, it didn’t all end with the checkered flag.

Ilott was involved in a chaotic restart on lap 26 of the 85-lap race around the 11-turn, 1.968-mile (3.167-kilometer) temporary street circuit when he came out of the pits ahead of rookie teammate Agustin Canapino.

While Callum Ilott was ahead of the pack, it was the 33-year-old Argentian driver who was in the lead for the first time in his IndyCar career.

Canapino did not make a pit stop during the caution flag period. His pit strategy, coupled with Ilott’s poorly timed pit exit, caused chaos and in some case race-altering contact for some throughout the field, particularly at the front.

Ilott’s role in the chaos led him to receive a “new record” of death threats, primarily from Canapino fans. Ilott took a shot at his teammate’s fanbase by referencing the “Spanish words” he has learned since the conclusion of the race.

For reference, Spanish is the national language of Argentina.

IndyCar fans aren’t generally the type you see making death threats on social media (like a handful of NASCAR and Formula 1 fans, for instance).

But this development is unfortunately not all that surprising, considering it is Canapino’s first year in the sport and thus a significant chunk of his fanbase isn’t familiar with the sport.

Of course, that doesn’t justify this unacceptable behavior in any way, shape, or form. It’s despicable, and it goes beyond sport; it’s about being a decent human being, which is unfortunately a major challenge for some on social media in this day and age.

Canapino spoke out against the behavior almost immediately after being made aware of it.

Translated, the text reads:

"“Unfortunately we had to retire due to a race situation. To clarify that Callum Ilott did not do anything on purpose or with intention, it simply happened that way due to circumstances, we make a good team and I am very grateful for that.”"

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Canapino now sits in 18th place in the point standings, second among the four rookies. Race four of the 2023 season is scheduled to take place on the Sunday, April 30. The Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix is set to be broadcast live on NBC from Barber Motorsports Park beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET.