Danica is the first women in history to qualify for the Daytona 500 in the pole (first place) position. The Daytona race will be this Sunday at 1:00 pm ET. It’s the beginning of the Nascar season and considered the most prestigious race of the year.
If you are not into race cars: Patrick has been on the IRL circuit with flashy IndyCars – since 2005. She’s competed numerous times in the Indy 500, leading laps and then finishing 4th in 2005 (she was named Rookie of the Year in 2005) and finished 3rd there in 2009, but left after the 2010 season to look at racing for NASCAR.
Indy is considered the elite of racing — very spaceship-like, fast, low to the ground race cars made famous by Mario Andretti and Helio Castanedas — while Nascar drive stock cars (think your Daddy’s old Chevy) raced mostly by the good old boys. The LAST place I ever expected Danica to race was for Nascar. They have a long tradition of being, well, pretty traditional in their thinking, in other words, “wimmin belong in the house, not the race track.” There are other women race car drivers but they are few and far between and none have the stats that Danica has.
But Danica was tired of Indy and decided to go for the challenges that Nascar would bring – forget the fact that the gal can drive with the best of them, she would have to deal with the media, the good old boys — “guys only” mentality and, oh yeah, race a stock car — not a fancy Formula One car. They listen to country, she prefers Alanis Morissette.
A big decision to make this move.
But a smart one. Not only does she obviously like to keep challenging herself but it was time for Nascar to have a shakeup. Their media coverage was falling off dramatically, TV revenue and interest was way down. Basically the same guys were winning week after week and people were over it. (Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch anyone?) Enter Danica to spice things up.
Nascar lets you race in it’s lesser series — Nationwide — for a year or so before you “graduate” to the “real” series, the Sprint Cup. That’s where she is racing now — as a Rookie — after being voted the Most Popular Race Car Driver for 2012 by the fans of Nascar. So she has a lot of hype to live up to.
My take on this: Feminists want Danica to be like them. I consider myself a feminist, but I believe women’s rights and making history as a woman only goes so far. In other words, why not be respected for what you do, not the fact that you happen to be a woman too? Besides making the men in the racing community uneasy because she is a woman, Danica makes WOMEN uneasy because she refuses to be the way THEY want her to be.
She is sexy, and silly, not always politically correct (Go Daddy ads anyone?) and a kick ass driver in a business where only a handful of people — men and women — compete. Let Danica be Danica. I don’t give a rat’s ass that she is the first woman to lead at Daytona 500. What I do care about is letting her drive the car. Let her show by her actions that she is a winner.
Today she was the fastest car out there on the track. Faster than household names like Jimmie Johnson, Clint Boyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Jeff Gordon.
Diva of Destiny? I truly believe she is. Go, Danica, Go!
Q&A with Danica: here