IndyCar Team Changes Driver Number to Scrub Terrorist Symbolism
Racing fans noticed a potential allusion to a terrorist slogan on AJ Foyt Racing’s cars—which has since been altered with an apology.
Indycar team AJ Foyt Racing has changed one of its driver's numbers to remove a potential allusion to a prominent terrorist slogan.
AJ Foyt Racing entered the 2023 IndyCar season with a two-car team driven by Santino Ferrucci and rookie Benjamin Pedersen, numbered 14 and 88 respectively. This combination of numbers may have been intended to pay tribute to the team's founder AJ Foyt, who is 88 years old and whose team has run the number 14 on its lead car since 1979. Ferrucci's prior associations with political extremism, however, led posters on social media to identify another potential message connected to terrorism.
The combination of 14/88 is prominent reference to a phrase known as "14 words" coined by U.S. domestic terrorist and white nationalist David Lane. Variations on 14 and 14/88 are widely used by white nationalists according to the Anti-Defamation League, often as a dogwhistle—an outwardly innocuous message with a meaning known by its intended recipients.
It's a slogan that may be familiar to Ferrucci, who in 2018 attempted to broadcast right-wing political messaging in Formula 2 with a provocative "Trump—Make America Great Again" livery. He was barred from using the livery, however and was later ejected from the series after deliberately ramming his teammate. Ferrucci was also accused of racially abusing this same teammate, according to RaceFans.
Ferrucci's previous attempt to display politically provocative right-wing messaging on his car, as well as the established meaning of 14/88, prompted speculation that AJ Foyt Racing's number choices were a subtle political message. The IndyCar team denied this, saying Friday in a release that it "does not condone nor support any such ideologies or symbols." AJ Foyt Racing declared it would change Pedersen's race number from 88 to 55, eliminating the "reprehensible associations" with white nationalism.
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