From unkind words to death threats, more than 1,500 comments were directed at Callum Ilott and loved ones on social media after he and teammate Agustin Canapino got caught in an unfortunate sequence on track during Sunday’s Long Beach Grand Prix.
A similar level of online abuse was also produced after a contentious incident between Pato O’Ward and Scott Dixon, which inadvertently recreated the situation between Ilott and Canapino.
After losing a lap when he hit the wall and breaking a wheel and flattening a tire, Ilott used the warning on lap 20 for the contact between O’Ward and Dixon to stay out and lap himself, while the rest of the field dove into the pits for service. The only escape in this scenario was Junco’s Hollinger Racing rookie Canapino, who was left out and took the lead.
After checking for new tires just before the race returned on green, Ilott was released from the pits and popped up just ahead of Canapino, who was leading the field at Turn 1. Back at the end of the lead lap but with cold tires limiting him, the Briton stopped the Argentine with instant speed and defended his position to avoid missing a lap and this is where the situation started to develop quickly online.
Moments later, contact with the wall at Turn 5 damaged Canapino’s car and he had to pit and it needed repairs, and with an angry fanbase turning their anger on Ilott, a steady wave of toxicity was unleashed on him that lasted through Monday .
Opposing views on responsibility for the incident 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 confrontations, led to more Ugliness on Social Media.
Earlier in the day, Ilott took aim at Argentine IndyCar commentator Martin Ponte, who he believes is responsible for the stream of hate after blaming him for Canapino’s race-changing dramas.
A certain level of professionalism is required when holding a microphone broadcasting a message to more than 100,000 people. I suggest you think about the message you want to send to people. I suggest you educate yourself about Indycar racing and comment at a better level. please be kind https://t.co/QJ9HCT0uhH
— Callum Ilott (@callum_ilott) April 17, 2023
On Monday night, the NTT IndyCar Series chimed in with a message of its own to calm things down.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) April 18, 2023
Shortly thereafter, O’Ward took to social media to call for a restoration of civility in messages written in English and Spanish.
Sincerely, PO ❤️ pic.twitter.com/BRYW13NZ0N
— Pato O’Ward (@PatricioOWard) April 18, 2023
IndyCar’s passionate audience has rarely strayed to the darker side of social media behavior, making the escalating nature of what has happened since Sunday a new experience for Penske Entertainment’s series.