Pedley: Danicamania Is A Troubling Sign For Auto Racing
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
There is zero doubt that Danica Patrick’s announcement of her future plans on Thursday morning was mega-huge American auto racing news. It’s just kind of sad that it was mega-huge news.
It gives a clear barometric reading about the state of American auto racing and that reading is depressing.
Depressing in that racing in this country has slipped to such a degree that a driver who has just one race victory in her entire big-time career has stopped the presses.
Time was, racing series made stars instead of stars making racing series.
I don’t know Patrick very well. I’ve interviewed her a time or two and been in on lots of group interviews. There is nothing coming from those occasions to hint at her being anything but a female racer who wants very much to succeed in whatever kind of car she drivers.
The first time I met her, she was being introduced around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway media room by Tom Blattler, one of the very finest PR people in all of sport who was, at the time, working with Bobby Rahal and his Rahal Letterman team.
Patrick – who had been racing in the European formula series and was about to invade America – and Blattler stopped by my work station and the first impression was: sharp and confident.
In subsequent encounters, Patrick has been charming on occasion, curt and flippant on occasion.
That is, she has been a human being.
I guess that for me, the only aspect of her public persona that I find objectionable is an insistence of being treated like male sports stars all the while basing that persona on her obvious attributes as a female.
And, wasn’t crazy about how she kept referring to herself and that kind of creepy Go-Daddy guy Parsons as “we” during her teleconference on Thursday. Her deal/relationship with the guy and the company seems to draw driver/sponsor attachment a little too close for comfort.
But as far as Patrick coming into NASCAR as a racer, I am for it.
On the track, I think that alternately pressure, second-tier equipment and racing circumstance have defined her IndyCar career as disappointing. There has been the one victory and please, don’t give me the fuel-mileage rant. It was a victory and to criticize it as being the result of luck is absurd: Everybody from Earnhardt to Andretti have won races on luck.
Nope, Patrick gets a big welcome here. It’s going to be interesting to watch her NASCAR career develop, though I hope she finds a way to race in the Indianapolis 500 again. Welcome, Danica.
The most conerning problem is how the top two auto racing series in this hemisphere stopped dead in their tracks awaiting and then reacting to “DANICA: Judgement Day For All of Racingkind.”
It’s going to get worse today when the NASCAR series arrive in Bristol for this weekend’s racing. Every third question to drivers will likely be about Patrick. If IndyCar actually had a press corps, the same would be true at that series’ race this weekend at Infineon Raceway.
Has the success of racing in America really become dependent on a savior? One who has one victory but dozens of mindlessly “hot” television commercials?
Racing made Dale Earnhardt Sr., not the other way around. Racing made Mario and A.J. and Force and Jimmie.
If NASCAR needs Patrick in order to survive, doom is assured. If IndyCar needs Patrick to survive, it is dead already.
– Jim Pedley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments