By on February 7, 2013
YouTube Preview Image

…people are right to be pissed at Danica Patrick. She squandered the good will of a multitude of fans who wanted to see a woman win at what used to be a man’s game. Guthrie and the other woman drivers pushed one of the most sexist subcultures to respect women… and Patrick undermines it all. She’s become a harmless, hair-flipping mascot…

Well, alright then!

In a recent Slate article, Laura Helmuth argues that Danica Patrick isn’t just failing in her attempts to move the image of women in racing forward, she’s actually hurting matters and making things more difficult for young female racers who might be tempted to follow in her footsteps. It’s easy to see the merit of her arguments: throughout her career, Ms. Patrick has continually underperformed as a driver and has been singularly unlikable as a human being. Time and again she has managed to drive extremely competitive cars to lackluster finishes while simultaneously flaunting her boyish body in a variety of heavily-Photoshopped pictorials. Surely no male driver would continue to have the opportunities she’s had while delivering her typical results, unless he was sponsored by a Venezuelan oil syndicate or something like that.

Ms. Patrick is far from a Jackie Robinson. Stick-and-ball sports fans will recall that Mr. Robinson broke the color line in baseball by acting in almost superhuman fashion; on the diamond, he performed with the best while he endured the unendurable off it. Unlike Mr. Robinson, Ms. Patrick has seen all sorts of benefits come her way as a result of her minority status, but she continues to act in an ungracious fashion. Your author will never forget the careless manner in which Danica told Sports Illustrated that her husband proposed to her by “bringing the ring back to bed” or some such horrifying trashiness.

Still, one might reasonably wonder if, in 2013, Ms. Patrick should be required to act any differently than a male driver. Shouldn’t she be free to make as big a fool of herself, on-track and off, as any man? If she hasn’t exactly been a perfect lady… should she have to be? Isn’t it enough just to drive the car and do the best she can, even if that best isn’t as good as any number of other talented drivers could do in the same seat? Surely she’s tired of pretending to be pretty and sexy when the fact is that if your waitress at dinner looked like Danica you wouldn’t even bother to flirt. Perhaps she should just be left to drive the car. She neither broke new ground for women in racing nor significantly harmed the prospects of her successors. Who’s to say?

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

59 Comments on “Should Danica Patrick Be Held To A Higher Standard?...”


  • avatar
    -Cole-

    What kind of watch is that?

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Shirley Muldowney already broke the mold, and did it very well. Danica is just a distraction, and a way for NASCAR to bump its steadily declining viewership.

    She’ll get talked about before and after the race, no matter what position she finishes in. It’s not helping that we’re talking about her right now, it’s just adding to the problem.

    All due congratulations should and shall be given to her if she does win a race, in the mean time, simply ignore her publicity train.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      “She’ll get talked about before and after the race, no matter what position she finishes in.”

      Which is exactly what she’s working towards. You can complain all you want about her off-track performance, but it works for her. If Laura Helmuth wants to pay her to be a feminist role model she should get out her checkbook and start writing. Until then Danica is entitled to do whatever she feels necessary both on and off the track to maximize her earnings, just like any other public figure.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      And thus we see it isn’t about winning, it’s about money. If she brings eyeballs to the screen, she’ll have a job.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        The only racing that’s about winning above anything else only happens out of the sight of the media, like backroad blacktops. If it’s a business it’s about money first. Winning is just a means to that end.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I am shocked – SHOCKED – by the implication that a professional sports/entertainment product is in any way about money.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        This!

        Re. Jack’s statement, “win at what used to be a man’s game,” it still is a man’s game.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        This! But every sponsor that gets a share of sentimental, or complete share of horny, eyes for her should be happy to re-up next year. Just imagine, all those guy drivers who come in 3rd or 4th probably don’t get as much interest as her twin peaks do…

        Re. Jack’s statement, “win at what used to be a man’s game,” it still is a man’s game.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    She’s a no talent, at least in the realm of Sprint Cup and will fall on her sword soon enough whether she is held to a higher standard or not. NASCAR is uber competitive, from a business perspective, especially in this post great recession era and there is little patience to suffer non-producers. Just look at the number of teams who are either smaller or have folded entirely in the last four years; she won’t be far behind.

    Sprint Cup is still dominated by men, and will probably continue to be as long as the cars are still predicated on a 1966 Chevelle style platform. It’s a tough, hard ride to tame, especially with a poor handling car that needs to be literally strong-armed through turns lap after lap. It’s not that there are many women who wash-out (like Shawna Robinson who was very under-funded), there just doesn’t seem to be many that sign up with NASCAR in the first place. It appears that Patrick was looking for a continual, big payday and she just assummed she could master Sprint Cup, a very, very different animal from Indy. She didn’t and she’ll be gone soon enough. Winning is everything, top tens are essential, and it’s bye-bye to anything else.

  • avatar
    Autobraz

    “She neither broke new ground for women in racing nor significantly harmed the prospects of her successors.”

    I agree completely. Just let her be. She is a free person in a free country. She didn’t sign up to be women’s role model or advocate of feminism. She could have been both if she wanted to – she is (was) in a great position to do so – but chose not to, which is fine.

    The fact she is getting some perks from being a woman is lucky for her and nothing wrong with enjoying them (she is not forcing anyone to keep her as a driver or spokesperson).

  • avatar

    Men and women are not equal- nor shall they ever be.

    • 0 avatar
      Autobraz

      True. But the differences should not mean unequal rights (as we see in so many places).

      Thankfully, Danica was not barred from racing because she was a woman. Possibly, her being a woman put her at a disadvantage in terms of dealing with physical demands of the job. It is her responsibility to overcome those if she wants to win.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Physical strength is one thing, but women are genetically built to never cross a certain line. It’s about impossible to get women BMX’ers to do a 1st-time back flip into a foam pit. Their self-preservation instinct is too tough to override.

        Unlike other racers, Danica that has absolutely no reason to put it all on the line. She’s a great driver without a doubt, but turning a fast lap is just racing a stopwatch.. She may eventually win on fuel strategy, economy or just luck if she starts in enough races.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        Ironically, wasn’t there a dust-up in IndyCar when some of the other drivers complained that being a woman was an unfair ‘advantage’ because she was so much lighter than the men, making any car which she was driving unfairly faster?

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        It was a valid point, but most Indy drivers are small guys anyways. I’d just assume she needed that handicap and a few more just to catch the field.

  • avatar
    salhany

    “Surely she’s tired of pretending to be pretty and sexy when the fact is that if your waitress at dinner looked like Danica you wouldn’t even bother to flirt.”

    I call shenanigans. She is genuinely attractive.

    She did win a race in IndyCar, so claims she’s a no-talent appear to have been overstated, methinks.

    That being said, I agree that she should be left to drive the car and succeed or fail the best she can. She’s hardly the first driver to fail to match expectations; one could argue that Dale Jr gets a level of attention and compensation far beyond what might be warranted from his on-track results, where he recently went a billion races between wins and has never won a Cup Title, never come close really, despite ridiculously good rides and sponsors.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Danica won the Japan 300, but the other top racers had their left turn signal on the whole time.. She’s also leaving nothing for the Smithsonian as she’s totaled every race car she’s been given.

      The difference between her and real racers is they can’t bring home excuses.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      According to Wikipedia, she came in 10th in the 2011 Indy standings.

      Same deal in 2010, and she was fifthi in 2009.

      Plainly a no-talent, amirite?

      Nobody with any driving ability would only be fifth in the IndyCar standings!

      (Turns out when there’s a point system you don’t need to win your races; in 2009, only six drivers won an Indy race, out of the 17 races. Because the Best Drivers won many times.

      This does not, however, mean the people who scored highly without winnning – or even a top three placement – are bad drivers.)

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        She is without a doubt, a great driver, as I said before, but racing a stopwatch isn’t racing at all. Ability to race to a win is whole other topic. That’s what people don’t understand, she doesn’t have to win even if she could. She won’t, it does’t matter to NASCAR and why should she even put in an effort to win? Why should we bother watching NASCAR?

  • avatar
    mitchw

    As though marketing weren’t a critical component of racing. Two years ago some drivers at a certain racing school were saying that Danica had already decided to be more of a brand than a driver. She’s in charge, if not so large.

  • avatar
    ceipower

    I think Nascar was hoping Danica would bring new fans into the fold.Nascar is losing followers every day. Perhaps Nascar pushed the wrong idea here. They should go back more to their roots as modified Stock Cars , not these generic built from the ground up Nascar spec’d to death vehicles.Restrictor plates= stupid. Mandate V6′s and be done with the V8. The brand rivalry is dead as all cars look the same, the driver rivalry is equally pre set. Not sure it’s all Danica’s fault , although she is nothing if not an opertunist.
    Nascar needs new blood, that should include new drivers , but that’s not enough to turn the tide here.

    • 0 avatar
      Zombo

      That’s why I stopped watching , when it became a boring IROC like event . I imagine the male drivers will welcome her not seeing her as a real threat , but rather a novelty to possibly bring more fans/money into the sport . If she wants to make a fool out of herself in those idiotic Godaddy commercials for a payoff nobody seems to care except the feminists . She never turned into the super racer who would beat all the guys just like Sorrenstam or Wie couldn’t compete with male golfers . Slim pickings since the Bobby Riggs/Billie Jean King tennis farce .

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Amen on going back to true Stock Cars, cars that win on Sunday and sell on Monday. Everybody knows that the cars on the track have no relationship to anything in the dealerships. Going back to stock cars would benefit fans, race teams, and car manufacturers.

      NASCAR would get a lot of fans back if the cars on the track were something similar to a car that fans could buy or build themselves. Otherwise it may be time to start a NASCAR death watch.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Agreed – go back to “stock cars” like the V8 Super Car series in Australia. Breeds competition far beyond the drivers and makes for far more interesting racing.

  • avatar
    Mykl

    I think NASCAR’s problems are deeper than this. The two things that prevent me from being a regular viewer are…

    1. the color commentary; Darrell Waltrip is just terrible. It’s like they hired the guy simply to pander to the old southern redneck stereotype rather than lend the perspective of someone who competed for years. I just can’t listen to the guy.

    2. coverage; I want to watch the racing. I want a broader view so I can watch cars maneuver and compete. There are times when close up, in car footage is a wonderful way to show some action, but there is never any time during any race where the “Digger Cam” is useful at anything other than exciting the “OMG THEIR GONE FAST” fans who aren’t interested in the subtle aspects of a race that simply can’t be shown with blurry footage.

  • avatar
    Neumahn

    What she did is wrong, and she is in need of a good spanking…. Goooooooood spanking.

  • avatar
    stuki

    I’d suggest that simply weighing less than 300lbs, goes a long way towards being considered “hot” amongst the core Nascar demographic….

    And as for females acting shrill and trashy; isn’t that what feminism is all about?

  • avatar
    Junebug

    I’ve lost interest in Nascar too, and I’m as southern redneck SOB as you are likely to find anywhere. But it’s NOT because of Danica, it’s the whole micro-managed organization and that tyrant France family. Will Ferrel did a great job pointing out the “official” tampon of Nascar and other BS that gets shoved in every teams nether regions. Get back to the roots, the rule book should be about half a paragraph on a sticky note. Cars should be safe, but they should only check, lenght, width, hight and weight. Everything else should be up to the teams. I’d love to see all those white suited France lackeys hanging around the pits all pushing brooms or picking up hot dog wrappers. I guess that’s why I’ll watch pick-up trucks race in the dirt over anything on Nascar, and BTW – DW is an ass-wipe – totally agree, Kyle Petty was much better behind the mic.

    • 0 avatar
      Morea

      And now with the Grand Am / American Le Mans Series “merger” NASCAR is out to ruin sports car racing as well. Are “Daytona prototypes” the best America can do?

  • avatar
    phreshone

    Ms. Patrick needs to take some time off from filming commercials, and spend some serious time behind the wheel. Race on Sunday; spend Monday at Road Atlanta in a prototype or grand-am; Tuesday at Eldora dirt tracking; Wednesday at a short track in a modified. Thursday back to NASCAR. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

  • avatar
    raded

    Whether it’s Danica Patrick, Tiger Woods, LeBron James, everything’s about an individual’s “brand.” Danica Patrick doesn’t want to be, and never wanted to be, the Jackie Robinson for women in NASCAR. She wants to focus on her brand, get Sportscenter to dedicate a few minutes to her, and stay in commercials. It’s the nature of the business.

    Tiger Woods could have focused his success and popularity on trying to get more black golfers into professional tours. Instead, he did Buick commercials, married a supermodel, and had sex with 10,000 blondes.

    I agree with the Slate article completely. Danica Patrick could have taken the high road. She didn’t.

  • avatar
    MeaCulpa

    So she’s a female Ken Block… No biggie.

  • avatar
    brid1970

    Too bad she hasn’t grown up. Early on she worked hard and there was hope of her becoming a positive role model for young girls, but that hasn’t happened.
    If she would just concentrate on driving hard for a living, she might earn some respect. Otherwise she’s just gonna fade into the sunset.

  • avatar
    areader

    Of course she has a ride because the Nascar and TV and sponsor people thought/hoped she could bring them money. She’s a fair driver at the class where she runs. She was chosen for the same reasons that Taylor Swift and others were chosen and that’s to make money. Poor Danica doesn’t have the benefit of electronic enhancement so she’s doing what she can. I’d grab the opportunity if it were offered to me. Just hope she saves some money and doesn’t screw her life up by the time it’s over. Hell, this is nothing. We damn near had Sarah Palin a heart beat from the oval office for similar reasons. I have no idea if she’s a great person or not, but for sure, she’s dealing with a bunch of snakes, so I hope she grabs all she can while she can. Sorry for casting snakes in a bad light.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    Nothing homely women hate more than (moderately) attractive wealthy women who get all the attention from the boys.

  • avatar
    RRocket

    If Ms. Patrick was held to the same standard as a man…she wouldn’t have a racing job. Period. From the time she was 16 years old and racing in England until now in NASCAR, she’s had ONE win. That’s ONE win in a career! She’s raced in Formula Ford, Barber Pro, Formula Atlantic, Indycar, ARCA, NASCAR Nationwide, NASCAR Sprint car. To name a few. And ONE win.

    So good thing for Ms. Patrick that she’s not held to the same standard as male racers, because she’d be unemployed.

  • avatar
    JSF22

    She’s not a very good driver, not very good looking, and by all accounts not very nice. But by definition she’s worth what she’s making on the open market, and she is a long way from being the sleaziest celebrity making a good living by being famous.

  • avatar
    ajla

    She got into a feud with Landon freakin’ Cassill last year. That’s like feuding with Damien Demento.

  • avatar
    TW4

    Everyone is chasing paper, but when it comes to sports, men and women chase paper a bit differently. Men must perform to get attention. Women only need to develop themselves into the athletic embodiment of seduction and sex-appeal. Why? B/c few men can be winners, and few sexy women are professional athletes.

    I don’t see the big deal. There are quite a few daddy’s boys making it into TV and print. The drivers are part owner so they practically can’t get fired when they piss away a season or two without a win. The men put on their firesuits and commence with the corporate droning. Danica puts on her firesuit and flips her hair around.

    Back in the day, Cletus T. Public would have smashed a beer bottle over a drivers head for switching from Chevy to Ford. Now people barely bat an eye. They’ve all gone soft.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Danica is a brand, she knows it, she milks it, just like a lot of other drivers in NASCAR, Indycar, Formula 1, etc. etc. what of it? She wasn’t the only female driver in Indycar there was Sarah Fisher, (who now runs her own team) Ana Beatriz, Simona de Silvestro, and Milka Duno. Danica usually drove pretty well, and more than once found her way to the front and has certainly driven as well or better than Marco Andretti (speaking of drivers who keep on getting a premium race seat regardless of how poorly they do).
    I think Jack’s critique would better be leveled at the perpetually last Milka Duno who would not have been anywhere near a professional race car if it were not for a boat load of money from Hugo Chavez, or at the handful of token females behind the scenes in Formula one who are given seat time and simulator time that could go to young male drivers who have a chance at a carreer in exchange for millions of euros in sponsorship money. Patrick can drive, she’s not the best, and she’s not the worst. I never really cared for her until I saw how she pissed off that pretentious preening prick Jacques Villeneuve last year in Nationwide, and that put her good in my book!

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    Massively thick neck. It’s just weird. I thought she was attractive until I noticed that, now I can’t unnotice it.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    “boyish body” – that’s the wrongest thing you’ve written, Jack.

    DP is a celebrity, as are most personalities in Indy and NASCAR. Her success these days has little to do with racing, because she’s managed to leverage her looks and novelty status into other careers (modeling, sales).

    She’d remain a near-household name even if she never raced again.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Danica looks good for a race car driver, but I’d give her an 8. Or an LA 7. I hope she makes enough hay while the sun shines, but yeah, she’s built like a boy.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    A Baruth Brain Fart. Are you trying to crossover in to E! turf?

  • avatar
    olddavid

    I was lucky enough to grow up with some damn tough sisters. We didn’t see them as different, just competitors. As they grew into beautiful women, the attitudes changed. She is no better or worse – just a competitor that happens to be female. I think her peer group needs to look inward for the answer to their prejudice. At this level, money will out.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    Who are we to decide to what standard should a motorsport driver be held? Motorsport sponsorship has always been driven by the driver’s ability a sell brands and attract sponsors. I chuckle when I hear some F1 elitists fuming about the rampant practice of hiring “pay drivers” by lower ranked teams, who sell out to sponsors, instead of “real racers”. The truth is, almost everyone in F1 is effectively a pay driver starting with Alonso and Hamilton. The business principles are no different in IndyCar and NASCAR. Patrick underperformed while driving Andretti Motorsport car in IndyCar, but Michael Andretti surely must have appreciated the generous sponsorship money she brought, which allowed to beef up the team staff and the other car(s) as well. At the time when all of IndyCar was broke (and still is), she was a huge asset. She was also probably the most recognizable IndyCar name among ordinary people. As pointed out above, this story also begs comparison vs Marco Andretti who drove for the same team with her.

  • avatar
    AJ

    You’re correct in saying that no male driver would continue to have the opportunities she’s had. I watched her attempt in NASCAR, and as with anyone that is not a white guy, the fawn over them.

    Danica is just in it for the money, along with her handlers. They’re out to take advantage that women are victims and it’s not fair for them to be kept out and not get their equal share to whatever they think they have to have. There is always opportunity to profit in making someone feel guilty.

    Sad, as all this does is make those that excel and win seem dirty in some way. And she’s worth plenty of money as a result.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So today Danica Patrick made history taking the Pole Position (snicker) for the Daytona 500. No woman in NASCAR or Indy has ever won the pole in any race. Ya I know, she needs to finish well next.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India