Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Danica - Ick!!!

I was amazed this past Sunday at the number of people who felt the need to throw Danica Patrick's name at me. These are people who normally give auto racing zero attention, but the hype was so huge around this chick that I was getting it from all sides. Let me state unequivocally that I am NOT a Danica Patrick fan. I have a few questions for you. Would she be getting the hype if she weren't pretty? No, even Sarah Fischer, the last woman to drive at Indy, didn't this kind of hype – but she was more farm girl healthy than pretty. Danica has won ZERO races to date in any sort of upper tier series, and the best she did in Toyota Atlantics (where she spent the past two years) was two podium finishes (and a whole lot of whining). Yet her face is going to be plastered (or is) on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Shall we discuss how many race car drivers have been on the cover of SI over the years?

"In 50 years of SI - that would be approximately 2600 issues of SI - there have been a big 16 covers dedicated to racing.

Between 1985 and now there have been 8 - all NASCAR - mostly Earnhardt - only one of Jeff Gordon's car - no actual picture of him.

The previous 8 were:

Phil Hill in 1959
Curtis Turner in 1968
Al Unser/Peter Revson - 1971 (cars only)
Jackie Stewart - 1973
Al Unser - 1978
AJ Foyt - 1981 (in car)
Danny Sullivan - 1985 (in car)

Note the majority are pictures of cars - not drivers.

So (where do I start) No Juan Manuel Fangio, Mario Andretti, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Jimmy Clark, Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Michael Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen, Gilles Villeneuve, Tom Sneva, Bobby Unser, Rick Mears, Alessandro Zanardi, Gil DeFerran, - all multiple championship winners. I'm sure I've forgotten some. I don't know all the NASCAR multiple champs, but maybe most amazing of all, the winningest driver in American history, Richard Petty never made the cover of Sports Illustrated!!

But the 4th place finisher at Indy gets a full head shot cover." (Many thanks to my friend HRH QE1 for the research and the quote.)

So, am I picking on poor Danica because she's pretty? No, I'm just saying that I'm pretty sure that's why she's getting the attention – that and Tony George is so desperate for any sort of media attention for the race that used to be his crown jewel that he was completely willing to use her for her looks.

And my biggest issue with Danica is that she's a prima donna who doesn't understand that she might want to cultivate all genders and age groups as her fans, not just horny men. Example: Last year at Cleveland, there was an autograph session set up for the Toyota Atlantic drivers and the Trans-Am drivers. I went through the two separate lines with my friend Larry's little guy, Tyler. Now Tyler is 3 or 4 years old and has Downs Syndrome. He's the sweetest little boy. Chris Festa (Danica's teammate last year) treated Tyler like a human being, high-fived him and just generally related to him. The rest of the drivers, except for Danica, treated him well, too. Sometimes just asking his name so that they could write it on the hero card, but other times talking to him and shaking his hands. It was nice to see so many being so nice to him. Danica, on the other hand, couldn't be bothered to look at him, much less write his name on the card. And Tyler knows his name and can point to it. Does Tyler know that he got dissed by DP? Probably not, but that's not the point. This is a chick who has WON NOTHING, but she had an attitude that begged me to smack her upside her head. I mean, for Pete's sake, Tommy Kendall, four-time Trans-Am champion, second winningest driver in series history (behind Mark Donohue), most wins (11) in a row in the series, etc., was the best with Tyler. He teased him and high-fived him and after he asked his name said, "Hey there, Tyler, I didn't recognize you in those Foster Grants" as he tugged down Tyler's sunglasses to look him straight in the eyes. Granted Tommy Kendall has enough personality for an entire Trans-Am field of drivers, but even Jon Baucom, who has been pretty personality-less over the years, was able to ask Tyler his name and shake his hand. So, that is the Number One reason I have no use for Danica Patrick. Nobody disses my little Tyler and gets away with it. Am I expecting too much out of Danica? No, in this day and age, race car drivers should be doing everything they can to improve the fan base and I'm pretty sure her sponsor would not be pleased to know that I'm making sure everybody knows about how Danica treats children, specifically Downs Syndrome children.

Besides my intense dislike for all things Danica, I wouldn't have watched the 500 anyway. And it's sad. Prior to 1996, I lived for the Indy 500. I loved the month of May! I watched every qualifying session (all four). I checked the news from Carburetion Day (always the Thursday before the 500) to see who was fastest, but Tony George (more commonly known as TFG) decided in 1995 that he was going to take his ball and go home, since Champ Car (then known as CART) didn't let him bat as often as he liked. He was the only track owner with a seat on the Board of Directors, but that wasn't enough for him. He wanted to run open wheel racing in the U.S. a la Bill France of NASCAR. The problem here is that Bill France was the one who organized stock car racing and got it off the ground and then his son Bill France Jr. marketed the hell out of it.

Problem is that TFG is not that smart. He thought he could tap into the nation's patriotic feelings and start up his own "all-American, all oval open wheel series." We will not discuss how incredibly laughable that is – just take note that the person who won the Indy 500 this past weekend was an Englishman. So, without getting into all of the bullshit that is the open wheel war in the States between Champ Car and the IRL (because it upsets me too much), the end result is that I didn't watch what used to by my favorite race and is the race that got me into auto racing oh so many years ago. Thanks, TFG, for ruining what had been a great race. Fucker.


At Wednesday, 01 June, 2005, Anonymous Clarity said...

"Even when I weighed 103 lbs I didn't fit into Jordache jeans." That had me cracking up, I loved your survey answers. But Paisley?..PAISLEY?!. lol, Thank you so much for your last note, It really brightened my day! You're so kind and wonderful, truly.. Just.. thank you.

Ugh..I can be so sappy, Forgive me. Buy hey..look who figured out how to leave comments in your new blog!

At Wednesday, 03 August, 2005, Blogger Big Dipper said...

The problem is the media. They will push a 'pretty' image because they think it's what the public want. I guess it is, because of the amount of people talking about her despite her lack of talent. Like Anna Kornikova.


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