IndyCar driver holds nothing back after receiving death threats

Callum Ilott, Juncos Hollinger Racing, IndyCar - Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Callum Ilott, Juncos Hollinger Racing, IndyCar - Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Callum Ilott singled out one person regarding the death threats and hate he received following Sunday afternoon’s IndyCar race on the streets of Long Beach.

This past weekend’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach did not go according to plan for Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott, who was one of only six drivers to finish both of the 2023 IndyCar season’s first two races in the top 10.

Ilott, who sat in seventh place in the championship standings entering the 85-lap race around the 11-turn, 1.968-mile (3.167-kilometer) temporary street circuit, crashed in practice after IndyCar failed to communicate an overnight kerb change to drivers and teams. He finished the race in 19th place and dropped into an 11th place tie in the standings.

But it didn’t stop there for the 24-year-old British driver, who said that he received a “new record” number of death threats after Sunday’s race.

The death threats stemmed from a lap 26 restart, during which Ilott happened to come out of the pits in front of the field. Rookie teammate Agustin Canapino was leading the race after not making a pit stop during the caution flag period.

Canapino had never previously led an IndyCar race. But it didn’t last long.

Ilott coming out just ahead of the field in an attempt to stay on the lead lap caused somewhat of a domino effect, and Canapino lost the race lead just a few seconds later.

Ilott indicated that many of the death threats came from fans of Canapino, indicating that they had helped him to learn “new Spanish words”. Canapino is Argentinian, and Spanish is the national language of Argentina.

The day after revealing that he had received these threats, he called out one person in particular: Argentinian driver Martin Ponte, whose “44 million enemies” comment (in reference to the population of Argentina), among other remarks, poured fuel on the fire in regard to the criticism and threats directed at Ilott.

Ilott did not hold back.

Ponte’s apology wasn’t much of an apology. He basically blamed everybody else for “interpreting it the wrong way”, as opposed to showing remorse for saying what he said to begin with.

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Others called him out on it also, indicating that his hateful remarks were quite hypocritical, given his past emphasis on the “mental health” of drivers. Stoking the flames in a situation such as this certainly doesn’t indicate much of a regard for said mental health.