Danica Patrick: Over-hyped or Overwhelmed?
I will begin this by stating the following: I am not a died in the wool NASCAR fan; never have been never will be. I used to watch it to a degree, enjoyed watching Bobby Allison and Buddy Baker, Bill Elliott and Dale Jarrett, Junior Johnson and Cale Yarborough, and The King Richard Petty and The Intimidator Dale Earnhardt. So when I saw a commercial for an upcoming NASCAR special I was intrigued. Until I saw who was sharing the lead image with Richard and Dale.
Seriously, Danica Patrick is who they put on that all important lead in shot to draw a viewer in? I had to laugh, literally laugh my ass off at who some network wienie thought was a qualified NASCAR driver of sufficient importance to include in this special. As far as I can determine, the only thing she has done is drive a car around in a circle long enough to bear notice. And I have to wonder if the only reason she still has a car is because she's a, well she's a...
Now before you go off on me and call me some masochistic names, call me a woman basher or something like that hear me out. I have no problem with a woman racing; none. I used to love to watch Shirley "Cha Cha" Muldowney as she flew down the quarter mile drag strip in a Top Fuel Dragster, kicking butts and taking names. No, my problem with Patrick stems from the perspective I have of her as not knowing what she wants to be: a pin up girl prancing around in her bikini or to be taken seriously as a driver, which includes finishing more races than she does. Or at least leading more laps than she seems to be able to do.
Can you tell me how many laps she has led over the last four years? A hundred? Fifty? How about thirty-two. Yes, 32 laps led in the past four years, 2012 to date. Out of almost 150 races started, each of which consists of several hundred laps or so, she has actually led barely thirty of them. Wow! What a powerhouse! She has accumulated a grand sum of twelve (12) top ten finishes and has yet to break into the top five during her run. Sounds like a true champion to me!
Again, I am not bashing her directly, but I have to question why in the world NASCAR feels she is a good person to put up front and center: she isn't a winner! Could it be because in this everyone-wins-a trophy world we exist in today, we need to celebrate someone who finishes the race about half the time or less? Do we need to qualify her success as "she's breaking down barriers so we need to keep her topical"? What if this was just another rookie man driver, driving for some group or team: would they give him the same latitude for crashing their cars week after week and never winning a single race? Not one? Would they still have a ride after four years of losing? I highly doubt it; yet here she is front and center with two legitimate legends advertising this series, this documentary on the greats of the sport. If she is one of the best ever, then some back up catcher with a career batting average of .200 deserves enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
NASCAR has its roots deep in the redneck culture of the South, in moonshine running. After a while, people began to wonder who had the fastest car and best driver and a track was prepared (sort of) at Daytona Beach, Florida in the mid 1930's. This track consisted of roughly a mile and a half section of the beach itself, a couple of turns in the sand of the beach and a narrow blacktop road as the other straightaway.
Make no mistake about it: racing on NASCAR is tough, borderline brutal, and requires strength and stamina to boot. You have to be tough to compete and I give Patrick kudos for being able to drive with the rest of the boys. But is she truly competitive? Looking at her record one has to wonder why she still has a ride. If I were a driver and had compiled a record similar to hers would I still be competing on someone else's nickle, or would I be on the streets looking for work? Nobody is in business to lose and basically that is all she has done for four years.
This is an expensive hobby, with costs for running a full year of races in excess of $5,000,000.00. A car comes in at about $150,000.00 with the engine being half the cost, roughly $80,000.00. Sponsors pick up a goodly amount of the costs but still, sponsors want a return on their investments as do the team owners. The way one gets that return is by winning, staying topical. And while Patrick has been topical it has not been through winning, rather it has been through her pictures, her commercials which have relied upon something other than her talent. Basically, it has been based on her looks. And that is why I have a problem with this situation.
I suppose this offends me so much because there are better drivers out there who deserve that placement far more than she does, and the only reason she has it is because of her sex. Nothing more, because she hasn't done anything in the sport beyond go out there, drive around for a while and crash. Once in a while she finishes a race and fewer times than that she does okay; never wins but does okay.
Put Yarborough up there with Petty and Earnhardt; put Waltrip, Rudd, LaBonte or Elliot up there; hell put Fireball Richards up there: any of those people deserve their place. For CMT and NASCAR to put Danica Patrick up there is an affront to competition everywhere, for it says that if you are of the fairer sex and you want to compete come on: they'll find a spot for you. You don't have to earn it, you don't have to do much to keep it: just smile your pretty little smile and drive around for a while. It'll be okay.
I thought that if someone gets something because of their sex it was bias or discrimination. Isn't it?