Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Go Danica Go!

Danica Patrick Wins Indy Japan 300

I remember three years ago watching Danica lead the Indy 500.

So proud of her.

For three years, the pressure built and built.

The New York Times

Sunday in Motegi, Japan, [...] Patrick, now 26, became the first woman to win an Indy car race. She defeated the two-time Indy 500 winner Hélio Castroneves by nearly six seconds in the Indy Japan 300.

“I feel way too young to be giving life advice, but this is a great platform to have,” Patrick said Sunday night in a telephone interview from Los Angeles, where she had landed after a virtually sleepless flight from Japan. “This reaches outside racing. This is about finding something you love to do, and following through with it.”

There was a time when Patrick could not have competed in Sunday’s race. A few years before Janet Guthrie, an aerospace engineer and road racer, became the first woman to qualify for the Indy 500 in 1977, women were not allowed in the press box, the garage area or the pits.

As Guthrie wrote in “Life at Full Throttle,” an account of her career in racing, women were dismissed as lacking the strength, endurance and emotional stability to compete against men. Even a driver with Guthrie’s credentials as a road racer was seen as dangerous.

“A woman might be a reporter, a photographer, a timer/scorer, she might own the race car — but she couldn’t get near it at any time for any reason,” Guthrie wrote. “A woman on the track itself was unthinkable.”

On Sunday, Guthrie showed little surprise at Patrick’s victory.

“Anybody who didn’t think she had a chance of winning just hasn’t been paying attention,” Guthrie, 70, said in a telephone interview from her home in Aspen, Colo. “She’s been in the hunt for a long time. It was just a matter of time, as far as I’m concerned.”

An IndyCar Series official said in 2006 that Patrick’s merchandise outsold that of any other driver, 10 to 1. The series said that the name Danica jumped to No. 352 from No. 610 on the list of most popular baby names from 2005 to 2006.

Castroneves had enough fuel to finish the race without making a pit stop, but he had to conserve what little he had. Patrick, who lost the 2005 Indy 500 because she had to stretch her fuel supply, took the lead with two laps left on Sunday and won easily.

“In recognition of Danica’s talents, she did a good job,” Castroneves said in a postrace news conference. “She passed me fair and square. I didn’t have enough fuel, even if I wanted to, to fight with her.”
By the sacred ovaries of Penélopê, wa-fracking-hoo!

Congratulations to Danica and Team Andretti.