Conor Daly loses Lilly Diabetes sponsorship after his father's use of racial slur on air in 1980s

Lilly Diabetes has pulled its sponsorship ahead of Conor Daly’s NASCAR debut after it surfaced that his father, Derek Daly, used a racial slur in a live radio interview in the early 1980s. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

NASCAR driver Conor Daly lost one of his sponsors this week ahead of his NASCAR debut — though not because of anything that he did.

It’s because of something his father did.

Lilly Diabetes pulled its sponsorship decals from Conor’s car on Friday, just before Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Road America over comments his father made more than 30 years ago.

Conor’s father, Derek Daly, admitted to using a racial slur in a live radio interview in the early 1980s on Thursday.

Derek, who worked as a freelance racing analyst for WISH-TV, admitted to using the N-word during an interview at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the early 1980s on Thursday, which led the station to dissolve its relationship with him this week, according to the Indianapolis Star. Larry Henry, who was the IMS radio announcer at the time, told the Indianapolis Star that he recalled freezing on air after Derek used the N-word, and then quickly threw the broadcast back to the station.

Though Conor was born in 1991, around a full decade after Derek used the slur on air, Lilly Diabetes said that it didn’t want the distraction from their cause.

“Our sponsorship in Saturday’s race is intended to raise awareness of treatment options and resources for people living with diabetes,” Lilly Diabetes said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the comments that surfaced this week by Derek Daly distract from this focus, so we have made the decision that Lilly Diabetes will no longer run the No. 6 at Road America this weekend.

“We remain committed to our mission of supporting people with diabetes.”

Conor spoke out on Twitter on Friday night.

“The last 24 hours have been quite an unnecessarily difficult ride for my family,” Conor tweeted. “There is A LOT I want to say, but I’m still here and still racing. I appreciate the support from Roush Fenway Racing and ALL of you. Lilly Diabetes has been a big part of my career and I’m very thankful.”

Conor — who has Type I diabetes himself — partnered with Lilly Diabetes on May 11, when the company announced it would sponsor Conor at the Indy 500 and at the NASCAR Road America race on Saturday, according to the Indianapolis Star, which marks his NASCAR debut. He was to work with them on their Drive Down A1C initiative, which helps motivate fans with Type II diabetes to better manage their health.

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