IndyCar driver responds after receiving death threats

Callum Ilott, Agustin Canapino, Juncos Hollinger Racing, IndyCar (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Callum Ilott, Agustin Canapino, Juncos Hollinger Racing, IndyCar (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Callum Ilott indicated that he had received death threats after Sunday afternoon’s IndyCar race. He discussed the matter more on Monday.

Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott had a weekend to forget on the streets of Long Beach, California, starting with a practice shunt that wouldn’t have happened had IndyCar communicated a significant track change, and ending with a “record number” of death threats.

Ilott entered the 85-lap race around the 11-turn, 1.968-mile (3.167-kilometer) temporary street circuit as one of just six drivers to finish both of the season’s first two races inside the top 10. He sat in seventh place in the championship standings.

Following a 19th place finish in the race, he dropped to an 11th place tie in the standings and was the target of a significant amount of online abuse and disrespect.

The criticism came primarily as a result of the fact that Ilott came out of the pits ahead of the field on a restart, which caused a bit of chaos among the frontrunners. Ilott, who was attempting to stay on the lead lap, came out directly in front of rookie teammate Agustin Canapino.

Canapino was leading an IndyCar race for the first time in his career after not pitting during the caution flag period.

The 33-year-old Argentinian driver quickly lost the lead, and Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden capitalized, passing Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood and moving into first place just a few seconds later.

The death threats, as Ilott indicated with his reference to “new Spanish words”, primarily came from fans of Canapino. Spanish is the national language of Argentina.

On Monday, the 24-year-old British driver spoke more about the threats and why, while they don’t necessarily faze him, such behavior can deeply affect other individuals.

He thanked the many fans who showed support for him after his Sunday message.

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IndyCar also issued a separate statement on the “disrespectful and inappropriate online abuse” spewed by select fans after the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.