It doesn’t say much for your sport that’s allegedly male dominated but your most popular driver happens to be a curvacious self effacing female by the name of Danica Patrick. And in the world of Indy Car Racing (IRL) , where all things being equal . Danica Patrick reigns supreme as the sport’s most popular driver by far. Though she’s not the lone female competitor within the sport. Alongside Patrick as fellow female participants are Sarah Fisher and Milk Duno .
Patrick makes use of her assets and was in-fact #91 in Maxim’s Hot 100 females. She’s not averse to showing of her body to further gain that notoriety that she eagerly craves.
And in a sport where one excels through sheer determination and having nerves of steel to handle a vehicle that at times can travel in excess of 200 mph . One can only but admire Patrick, Duno and Fisher. Their male counterparts haven’t readily accepted Patrick within their throng. But in reality , they know that without her presence , the sport in effect would be on its last legs. Nevermind the fact that only recently had the sport re-enter into detente , wherein the former splintered factions of IRL and CART re-emerged to form the present body of IRL. For the present things seem to be working out OK.
The sport itself is now at a crossroads , merely of the financial constraints that a number of teams are now being placed under. With major Fortune 500 companies now leaving the sport because of the uneasiness of the current economic crisis. And the mere fact that in terms of cost effectiveness the visual media in terms of direct television advertising is far more cost effective , than that of spending millions of dollars each year, with marginal returns if that specific team isn’t having a great of success on the track.
History is made by Danica Patrick as she wins in Japan. Finishing second was Helio Castroneves in the Indy Japan 300 at the Twin Rings circuit , Motegi, Japan
Financially the sport cannot live without its major corporate sponsors or without the backing of several auto manufacturers. As the sport is one the primary testing grounds for its technology. But as with most auto sports where large part of the costs comes from the running of a team and the costant testing retesting. It’s easy to understand why it’s to cost millions of dollars to run a team for an entire season. It’s no wonder that several teams have either fallen by the way or merged with other notable teams in order to cut costs. The dilemma though for IRL was the impact that it would’ve caused had Danica Patrick left the sport to make the jump to NASCAR . The temptation was there as it had been suggested that several teams within the sport had shown interest in the driver. However , she was still under contract with her team Andretti Green Racing, until the end of the year. So it was imperative for the team and the sport not to lose the driver. She’d become the darling of Madison Ave , in terms of sponsorships and endorsements. But with Patrick , also came the glare of the spotlight for the sport in general. And genuinely that was what the sport wanted and very much needed.
Patrick’s Sports Illustrated 2009 expose’
For Patrick apart from her brassiness and her willingness to run afoul of her male and at times female competitors. There was no denying her eagerness to become a success on the track. She made history by becoming the first female to win an open wheel event within IRL. That moment came with her winning the Indy Japan 300 at the Twin Rings at the Motegi circuit in Japan , in 2008 . The fact wasn’t lost within the realms of the sport. And it certainly wasn’t overlooked by the press and the public alike.
Courtesy of Yahoo Sports and Associated Press:
By Associated Press
Danica Patrick has agreed to a three-year contract to remain at Andretti Green Racing and stay in the IndyCar Series, according to a report in the Indianapolis Star.
Patrick, the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in last year’s Indy Japan, is finishing her fifth season in the IndyCar series and is fifth in points. She’s been rumored to be considering a move to NASCAR and still could compete in a limited number of races.
Patrick’s agent, Alan Zucker, did not return calls from The Associated Press. The Indy Racing League and Andretti Green Racing had no comment.
The IndyCar Series season finale is Oct. 10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Jeff Belskus, the president and CEO of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has said the 27-year-old driver is important to the future of the series.
“I know she has said winning the Indianapolis 500 is important to her and that it’s a lifelong dream to win that race,” Belskus said at the Indy Japan 300.
Patrick finished sixth at this year’s Indy Japan, which was won by Scott Dixon.
NASCAR star Tony Stewart said this month that he has no doubts that Patrick will eventually make the jump to stock cars. They’ve talked frequently about what it would take for Patrick to go from open-wheel racing to the heavier cars.
Stewart said Friday at Dover International Speedway that he has not talked to Patrick about her decision.
And for Patrick it’d appear that her being in a swimsuit is almost as desirable as being in her fire retardant race gear.
It’s now almost certain that Patrick will remain within the discipline , having signed a lucrative three year contract with Andretti Green Racing. It will no doubt make her one of the highest paid individuals within the sport. And when one adds in her earning potential away from the track. It’s easy to understand why she’s the most popular driver within the sport. She’s no doubt the envy of many of her male contestants. However, in light of the fact that she’ll remain within IRL for the forseeable future. She may well participate in several NASCAR events. Quite possibly in the Sprint Cup Series ,as well as in the second tiered Busch Series . The opportunities are there for her.
The very infamous spat between Duno and Patrick had everyone talking . Even if it was viewed in some circles as being for all the wrong reasons. But as they say “….. a little bit of controversy never hurt anyone”. In this case it only added to the persona of Danica Patrick. Who some viewed as a bitch , while others viewed her as the sport’s saving grace.
And while Danica Patrick no doubt has her admirers . She also too , has her detractors. She’s often viewed as a person who’s willing to push the envelope just a little too far on the course and then seemingly take the stance that she wasn’t at fault. In doing so she’s courted controversy with her antics. But in the not much has come of it , by way of a reprimand from the sport’s ruling body.
For the male contestants within IRL , it’s hard to see what their take is on Danica Patrick. Some may well view her favorably . While there are bound to be others who look upon her as something of a mild irritant that for the time being they’ll have to live. Afterall the sport hasn’t seen a female competitor race within the sport since Janet Guthrie. Since the emergence of first Sarah Fisher , then to be followed by Patirick and Duno. The sport has seen a raise in its profile somewhat. And for the likes of Dan Wheldon, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Briscoe , Scott Dixion , Vitor Meira , Graham Rahal and Thomas Scheckter , this may seem as something of a welcoming
respite. Albeit , that it might well take away in part , the level of seriousness of the competition.
Seemingly Patrick now has the sport at her feet to almost do with as she pleases. Let’s just hope that she’ll act with a little more decorum when competing. At the same it’ll prove to the fans of the sport she’s capable of not only being competitive . But also that she’s serious about remaining in the sport and looking for continued consistency and success. Patrick now stands fifth in the IRL standings and without much hope of winning the championship. But it represents thus far her most successful season to date. In 2010 it’s hoped she’ll look to make further progress in the series. And take another shot at making history by winning the series championship outright.
* CART signifies Champ Car Auto Racing Team