The 10 Best Things About NASCAR Star Kyle Larson Saying the Word That Starts With 'N' and Rhymes With 'Bigger'

Illustration for article titled The 10 Best Things About NASCAR Star Kyle Larson Saying the Word That Starts With N and Rhymes With Bigger
Screenshot: ESPN (YouTube)

Even during the dark days of the pandemic, when a handshake will kill you and a Kushner will drink your blood, the sun occasionally shines on us, and it’s our duty to bathe in its luminance. Such a time happened on Sunday when, during an iRacing event, NASCAR star Kyle Larson lost communication with the spotter on his headset, and followed with the clearest, best, and most confident “nigger” since the first 20 minutes of Glory. It was the Michaelangelo of random public nigger utterance. The Frank Lloyd Wright of “Wait...he said what?” (Also, little known tidbit: “Random Public Nigger Utterance” was the original title of “Tiger King.”)

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Since then, the 27-year-old Larson has predictably been fired from, well, everything. But today I just want to talk about what made his “nigger” so special.

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1. The fact that he said it when there was no context at all for it. This, unfortunately, is not terribly uncommon among non-black people, who seem to be highly susceptible to random bouts of Nigger Tourette’s. One moment you’re in Panera ordering soup, and then the next you’re wondering “Did that cashier just say ‘Thanks, nigger’?”

2. That he used it in a two-word complete sentence—which suggests veteran nigger use and usage because only nigger mavens know how to properly conjugate it.

3. The nervous laughter followed by two seconds of silence, which is what usually happens when it’s said so randomly. The academic term for this is NSB (Nigger Sonic Boom).

4. There was no ambiguity with whether this was “nigga” or nigger—no opportunity for him to attempt to play it off as him repeating a rap lyric. He got his money’s worth out of that hard r. It felt like “niggerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.”

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5. Between his voice and intonation, it kinda, sorta reminded me of Beavis saying “fire.”

6. And now, for the rest of your day, the thought of Beavis saying “nigger, nigger, nigger” instead of “fire, fire, fire” will be stuck in your head. You’re welcome.

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7. “Kyle, you’re talking to everyone, bud”—a response that works both for reminding racist NASCAR drivers that their words are public and for reminding colleagues that the video call is live. Which just makes me believe this is a typical NASCAR Zoom meeting. I wanna see that Slack now, too.

8. The sound you hear after “Kyle, you’re talking to everyone, bud.” Which isn’t an engine, but Nigger Kyle’s blood and bank account draining in real-time.

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9. You know how some children’s games are called different things in different parts of the country? (For instance, what I call “Hothands” you might call “Slapjacks.”) Anyway, “Hey, Nigger” would be an awesome alternative title for “It Tag.” Consider it.

10. The “Hey” because it’s so familiar and congenial. When you calmly address someone with “Hey,” you’re ultimately saying “Hey, friend.” Which makes that ‘Hey, Nigger” even more spectacular. That might just be the way he talks to his boys. Me and my homies say “bruh” and “fam” and “man.” Larson’s crew just says “nigger.”

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I didn’t listen to his apology yet, but Nigger Kyle missed an opportunity if he didn’t say that.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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DISCUSSION

I witnessed the NSB at a party I was throwing. Some drunk white dude yelled it with a hard R, and everything just stopped. People talking, the grill, birds chirping, the planes above, everything. Of course it turned into a “it’s time to get him the fuck out” moment after the boom hit, but yeah, the NSB is a powerful thing.