IndyCar and its drivers call out Long Beach social media abuse

Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

IndyCar and its drivers call out Long Beach social media abuse


IndyCar and its drivers call out Long Beach social media abuse


Ranging from unkind words to death threats, more than 1500 comments were aimed at Callum Ilott and his loved ones on social media after he and teammate Agustin Canapino found themselves in an unfortunate on-track sequence during Sunday’s Long Beach Grand Prix.

Similar levels of online abuse were also produced after a contentious incident between Pato O’Ward and Scott Dixon, which inadvertently created the situation between Ilott and Canapino.

After losing a lap when he hit the wall and broke a wheel and flattened a tire, Ilott used the lap 20 caution for contact between O’Ward and Dixon to stay out and unlap himself as the rest of the field dove into the pits for service. The only outlier in that scenario was Juncos Hollinger Racing rookie Canapino, who was left out and inherited the lead.

Having pitted for new tires just prior to the race returning to green, Ilott was released from the pits and emerged directly in front Canapino who led the field into Turn 1. Back on the tail end of the lead lap, but with cold tires limiting his immediate pace, the Briton held up the Argentinian and defended his position to avoid going down a lap, and it’s here where the situation began to rapidly devolve online.

Moments later, contact with the Turn 5 wall damaged Canapino’s car and he was forced to pit and seek repairs, and with an enraged fan base aiming its anger at Ilott, a steady wave of toxicity was unleashed on him which continued into Monday.

Contrasting views on the incident responsibility between Arrow McLaren’s O’Ward and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dixon where the New Zealander blamed the Mexican for the clash and O’Ward refused to accept blame for the contretemps led to more ugliness on social media.

Early in the day, Ilott took aim at Argentinian IndyCar commentator Martin Ponte, whom he believes is responsible for the torrent of hatred after blaming him for Canapino’s race-altering dramas.

By Monday evening, the NTT IndyCar Series weighed in with a message of its own in an attempt to cool matters.

Soon after, O’Ward took to social media to ask for a restoration of civility in messages crafted in English and Spanish.

IndyCar’s passionate audience has rarely strayed into the darker side of social media behavior, making the escalating nature of what’s taken place since Sunday a new experience for the series owned by Penske Entertainment.