Rowdy Roddy Piper has a new excuse for Hulk Hogan's racist rant -- telling us his old wrestling pal was dealing with a major tragedy when he dropped the n-word ... over and over ... on his sex tape.
Our photog spotted the WWE legend out in West Hollywood, and like most wrestlers ... he defended Hulk, claiming he's absolutely NOT racist.
When we told him the sex tape was from 8 years ago -- he reminded us that was around the time Hulk's son Nick got in an horrific car accident ... nearly killing his friend.
It's unclear if the sex tape rant was recorded after Nick's accident -- but watch Rowdy's passionate plea. In his eyes ... the scales still tip in Hogan's favor.