In a story that just continues to get worse with each passing day, Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly has pulled their sponsorship of race car driver Conor Daly just ahead of a race this weekend.
Now, why would a company do such a thing? What would prompt a company to take such a move? Well, Eli Lilly is apparently upset with a word Daly’s father and former race car driver, Derek Daly said in the 1980s. Yes, seriously.
The origins of this crazy story begin with the unexpected retirement of longtime Colts radio announcer, Bob Lamey, who had been with the team for more than 30 years. Lamey was synonymous with the Indianapolis Colts. You just didn’t get one without the other and as such he become known as the “voice of the Colts.”
Anyway, Lamey’s surprise retirement caught everyone off guard and you just knew there had to be more to the story. Come to find out that was the case.
As the story began to unfold, Lamey did not so much retire on his own as he was likely “encouraged” to retire by the Colts. This came after it was revealed that Lamey, while retelling a story, used a racial slur. This incident got back to the Colts and you guess what happened after that.
Here’s the statement the team released following Lamey’s departure:
In regards to Bob Lamey…first and foremost, the Colts deplore and do not tolerate the use of any racial slur – in any context.
While it is the Colts’ strict and long-standing policy to not make public comment on personnel matters, Bob publicly acknowledged that last week he repeated an inappropriate word when telling a story. He immediately apologized to the people who heard him use the word, and then promptly retired as the Colts play-by-play announcer.
Bob has had a long and storied history in our community, but he made a serious mistake. The Colts are deeply disappointed the incident took place and offer our sincerest regrets to all who were impacted by Bob’s lapse in judgement.
However, the story does not end there. Not even a little bit. You see, Lamey says that he was only repeating a story in which the racial slur was used. It was soon after revealed that retired race car driver Derek Daly was the source of the 1980s story in which the word was used.
Now, in Indianapolis, Daly was the freelance racing analyst for WISH-TV, discussing such events as the Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard and any other major racing news. After this revelation, the station promptly let go of Daly for the word said more than 30 years ago.
After the station’s move, Daly responded and released the following statement:
Last night WISH-TV severed ties with me after former sports broadcaster Bob Lamey apparently inaccurately attributed a racial slur to me during an interview in the early 80’s. It was reported on their web site that I confirmed this. Both of these reports are factually incorrect. On this subject, I was never interviewed by Bob Lamey. The slanderous statements made by Bob, and now being attributed to me, are not only factually incorrect, but offensive.
The facts are: In the early 80’s, after I had recently relocated to the United States, I was interviewed by radio reporter Larry Henry and I was asked about my situation with my new American team. I responded by explaining that I was a foreign driver now in America, driving for an American team, with an American crew, and with an American sponsor – and that if things did not go well, the only “n***** in the wood pile” would be me. At the time, I meant that I, as the new foreigner on the team, would shoulder the blame and I would be the scapegoat. This was not in any way shape or form meant to be a racial slur. This phrase was commonly used in Ireland, Britain, and Australia.
When I used that phrase in the early 80’s, I had no idea that in this country that phrase had a horribly different meaning and connotation, as it was commonplace in Ireland. After moving to the United States, I quickly learned what a derogatory term it was. When I was first informed of this, I was mortified at the offense I might have caused people. I have therefore never used the word since. I made this mistake once, but never again.
As someone lucky enough to travel and work around the world, I have good friends and colleagues from almost every race, nationality, and religion. I have always treated everybody with equal respect and they have done the same with me. Anyone who questions that should talk to them. Similarly, I hope I have demonstrated my character during the past 20 years that I have spent working on television with a range of professionals of all backgrounds.
Finally, I want everyone to know I deeply regret and sincerely apologize for what I said more than three decades ago.
Respectfully, Derek Daly
Now, this brings us to current race car driver, 26-year-old Conor Daly, Derek Daly’s son.
You may be wondering what does Conor’s age have anything to do with him losing his sponsorship? Well, being 26, would mean he was born in 1991. Derek Daly said offensive word was in the 1980s.
Conor Daly was not even alive when his father said the word! Nor did he even say the word himself. However, these details didn’t seem to matter to Eli Lilly, who announced they were pulling their sponsorship of Daly’s car.
A company has the absolute right to use their marketing/sponsorship money in any way they seem fit. They are not compelled in anyway, shape or form to sponsor a race car driver. However, when the company says they were removing their sponsorship because of the word his father said, then that just makes the company look dumb, petty and childish.
Making the child pay for the sins of the father probably isn’t a good look, no matter the company or what they sell.
Despite receiving such treatment, Conor Daly seems to be taking the high road. He posted the following message on Twitter:
The last 24hrs have been quite an unnecessarily difficult ride for my family. There is A LOT I want to say… but I’m still here and still racing. I appreciate the support from @roushfenway and ALL of you. @LillyDiabetes has been a big part of my career and Im very thankful. #6
— Conor Daly (@ConorDaly22) August 24, 2018