Danica Upset With Rule
Is in the Spotlight Once Again in
plans to deliver at
Patrick, focus stays on
gearing up for Patrick: Her presence has helped
ticket sales for IRL
driver on fast track at Indy
Patrick on Record Rookie
Races To The
joins 'Race Divas' lineup Friday, November 25,
Related Stories: More
Danica - 2, Women
in Racing, Notable
Danica Patrick drives for Rahal-Letterman
Racing where she is shattering records, becoming
the first women in history to win a pole position
in the Toyota Atlantic Championship.
At the age of ten, Danica exploded onto the
karting scene, placing second in points against 20
other drivers. In her second year she began to
climb, racing in the WKA Midwest Sprint Series in
Yamaha Sportsman and US 820 Sportsman, placing
second and breaking two track records in a single
By Danicas third year, she had seized her
first national points championship in WKA
Manufacturers Cup in the Yamaha Sportsman
class. By the age of thirteen, she had won the WKA
Great Lakes Sprint Series title in the Yamaha
Restricted Junior and US 820 Junior classes.
Danica solidified her reputation the following
year in the Yamaha Jr. and Yamaha Restricted Jr.
classes winning a knock-out 39 of 49 feature races.
In her last year of karting she won the Grand
National championship in the Yamaha Lite and HPV
By the age of sixteen Danica was racing in the
Formula Vauxhall Winter Series in England, placing
in the top ten of the 14 races.
2000 was a record year for 18 year old Danica
when she finished second in the England Formula
Ford Festival, the highest finishing American
driver since 1998, stunning the critical British
racing community. This success brought her to the
attention of three-time Champ Cat titleholder and
1986 Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, who believes that
Danica is the next female sports star in North
Danica became a household name when she entered
the Toyota Atlantic Series and became the first
full-time female driver in the history of the
2003 has been a key year for this young and
talented driver as she shows that shes got
what it takes to win. With a choice of the Indy or
Champ Car series next year, this could be the time
that she climbs into the racing limelight. To see
what happened with Danica during the 2004 season,
watch Girl Racers!
To find out what time Girl Racers is on Global
TV, join our mailing list.Visit Danica
Patricks web site at www.danicaracing.com
That Patrick came as far at such a tender age is
all down to her supportive family, which has been
with her from Day One. Her father, T.J. Patrick, a
former driver himself who has raced everything from
snowmobiles to midgets, worked on Danica's karts
during that phase of her career and still advises
her long distance, trying to retain his
impartiality while evaluating his own flesh and
blood: "When we're racing I look at her as a racer,
not a daughter. When she puts on that helmet she
becomes a completely different person."
Danica's mother, Bev, and younger sister Brook,
almost 16 years old, were also part of the foursome
that traipsed around the United States and Canada
pursuing Danica's karting career. Brook was
actually into karting before her older sister tried
it out but Brook gave it up and ultimately evolved
into Danica's public relations division at the
tracks, helping out with Danica's fans and handing
out pictures and T-shirts with Danica's sponsors'
names on them. Bev Patrick, the mother who inspired
this industrious brood, takes quiet satisfaction in
the way people respond to her daughter: "I like to
see everyone's reaction when she comes off the
track and pulls off her helmet and throws out her
hair; they point and say that's the girl, that's
Rookie female driver
on fast track at Indy 500
Three other women have raced at Brickyard, but none
with traction of Danica Patrick She is not the
first, but so far, Danica Patrick is the best. The
best media darling. Self-promoter. Ambassador for
women in racing.
Oh yes, and driver.
Ever since Janet Guthrie withstood catcalls and
insults for daring to infiltrate the field in 1976,
only four women have cracked the grid at the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the fabled Memorial
Day weekend race, a contest so testosterone-fueled,
the starting call still remains, "Gentlemen, start
Purists mostly considered Guthrie, Lyn St. James
and Sarah Fisher, now making inroads toward a
NASCAR career, as also-ran novelties.
But when Patrick posted the best-ever qualifying
mark for a female driver May 15 for Sunday's
Indianapolis 500, capturing the fourth position in
the 33-car field, the good old boys who crowd the
Brickyard's infield may finally have to concede
that a woman might just win this thing.
Patrick told her race team's co-owner, talk-show
host David Letterman, as much Monday night when she
was a guest on his show.
"Here I am, boss!" she quipped as she came on
stage, wearing a short skirt that showed plenty of
"I have a feeling it might change motor sports
forever,'' Patrick said when Letterman asked her to
describe the significance of a woman in the
winner's circle. "You know, they talk about the
women that have come through, and like you said,
it's been something like 88 years that it's been
around, and for only four women to come
"We all know their - well, I know their names,
The audience broke into laughter. Patrick, it
seems, had won everyone over yet again.
Despite a slight wheel lift in the first of her
four qualifying laps that left her bitterly
disappointed not to start on the front row,
Patrick's No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Panoz Honda
turned in a four-lap average speed of 227.004 mph
to capture the inside spot on the second row,
alongside and ahead of Indy Racing League veterans
Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti.
Pole-sitter Tony Kanaan, the defending IRL
series champion, will lead the pace with a
qualifying speed of 227.566 mph.
And while the talented Brazilian has been
good-natured about the hoopla surrounding Patrick,
Kanaan is more concerned about getting a jump past
a pair of former IRL series champions alongside him
on the front row -- Sam Hornish Jr. and Scott Sharp
-- than the possibility that Patrick could upstage
him on Sunday.
"It doesn't change my life at all. I think it's
good for the series,'' Kanaan said in a
teleconference Wednesday. "She's definitely very
"Obviously, she's a girl, and she's doing good.
So, obviously she gets more attention than any of
us. I'm racing against 33 other drivers, so whether
she's a girl or boy it doesn't matter. Hopefully it
will bring more people to the race and to watch it
on TV. I definitely think it's good for the
The folks at the Indy Racing League certainly
Patrick has emerged as the series' most
marketable star. She's 23 and feisty, all of 5 feet
2 and 105 pounds, and has the megabucks backing of
team bosses Letterman and Bobby Rahal, despite her
status as a rookie driver in the IRL.
Her long hair flows. The long pink fingernails
remain intact beneath Nomex-clad racing gloves. The
Roscoe, Ill., native has been driving everything
from go-karts to 200-mph formula cars in England to
Toyota Atlantic cars since the age of 16, so she
definitely has credentials.
And it doesn't take a lengthy Internet search to
find those equally racy photos from a recent spread
in the magazine FHM, the ones showing the
dark-haired Patrick -- "girl racer," one site calls
her -- barely wearing a black and red leather teddy
and bustier, straddling a vintage '57 Chevy with
such gusto, it would make Paris Hilton blush.
Yet if someone ventures to ask Patrick whether,
genetically, a man might be better suited to
prevail in the 89th running of the Indy 500, brace
yourself for a comeuppance.
"Or a female driver to be a better race car
driver than a man?" she responded during a recent
teleconference, getting some laughs. "I'm sorry, I
had to throw that in there.''
With that barrier broken, Patrick could better
"If anything, the toughest part for a female ...
is the actual fact that you're a female,'' Patrick
said. "It's not whether you have better reflexes,
worse, or anything like that, but just to have a
race team that backs you, a team that really
believes in you, because it really just hasn't
Her arrival at the Brickyard comes at a time
when the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" could
really use a boost. Some of the luster has worn off
the storied event, as open-wheel racing's fractured
business side has seen the IRL and Champ Car World
Series lose considerable ground to the phenomenon
that is NASCAR.
But in America, Sunday is still Race Day. Beer
will be swilled, there's meat on the grill, and
sports fans can't help but feel a connection to a
race their fathers and grandfathers once
Patrick's presence, of course, has generated a
whole new wave of interest in the venerable Indy
"I think that 'the hoopla,' as you call it, is a
little bit more than normal, especially with me,
due to the fact that we've been doing really well
and things have been going good for us,'' said
Patrick, who's coming off a fourth-place finish
April 30 at Twin Ring in Motegi, Japan, a race that
saw her start from the front row and lead for 32
laps. "I know that the media and PR for Team Rahal
and for IRL has had a lot of interest in me is all
Regardless of where, and if, Patrick finishes
Sunday, you can bet there will be plenty of eyes
following her No. 16 car through those 500 miles of
left-hand turns. In the end, though, the buildup
won't help her win.
"The race itself,'' Kanaan reminded, "is the
Source: - Nancy Gay, Chronicle
Staff Writer 5/27/05, sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/05/27/INDY.TMP
Patrick Is in the
Spotlight Once Again in Texas
The spotlight on Danica Patrick has grown brighter
since she finished fourth in the Indianapolis 500.
Many competitors are impressed with the rookie's
composure in the glare
The media glare focused on Danica Patrick at
Texas Motor Speedway might be daunting to drivers
with far more time in the spotlight.
But the 23-year-old Indy Racing League rookie
isn't the least bit bothered. In fact, she's having
a pretty good time as she balances the frenzy of
fan attention and a multitude of interview requests
with preparations for Saturday night's Bombardier
Learjet 500, a race likely to see lots of
three-wide racing at more than 200 mph.
The first question Patrick fielded Friday during
a packed press conference was about the cool, calm
demeanor she has worn since the beginning of the
month of May at Indianapolis, where she led laps
and finished fourth - both firsts for a woman in
Asked if she somehow knew this "Danica Mania"
was going to happen someday and had prepared
herself for it, Patrick smiled shyly and replied:
"Would it sound cocky if I said yes?
"I never knew what was going to happen. All I
knew is that, best case scenario, it would, that it
would be big news and that it would have an impact
and it would help the series and it would inspire
young kids and girls and be a really great
"Maybe that's why I feel completely myself. It's
a big deal, but I don't feel it's something that
I'm going to overanalyze and say, `Wow! I'm in the
newspapers every day.' I feel it's just kind of a
story right now, something that people are excited,
interested and curious about, to see how it
Tony Kanaan, the reigning champion of the IRL
and winner of four races in the IndyCar Series,
stood briefly at the back of the crowded room,
watching and listening. As he turned to leave,
Patrick saw him and said, "Next question, Tony
He smiled as he left the room, turning and
saying, "You're doing OK."
Source: Tony Gutierrez,
plans to deliver at Indy
Although she's only 5-1 and three-quarters and 105
pounds, Danica Patrick has an iron-grip handshake
that instantly conveys the intensity that helps
make her the first woman with a genuine chance to
win the Indianapolis 500.
"I hope and expect to win here," Patrick says.
"I think if the day goes well and I can make it
through traffic and have a smooth day without any
mistakes, I don't see why I can't."
By A.J. Mast, The Indianapolis Star
"That's her trademark," says Lyn St. James, the
seven-time Indy 500 driver who mentored Patrick as
a teenager. "I remember telling her that she didn't
have to take people to their knees to get their
Indeed, the motor sports world is paying rapt
attention to Patrick as Sunday's race
With a No. 4 qualifying position, Patrick
clearly can handle a car. As a member of the Rahal
Letterman Racing team that won the 2004 Indy 500
with Buddy Rice driving, Patrick has the equipment
and crew. And having raced on England's rugged
formula circuit as a teenager, Patrick has paid
considerable dues, even at 23.
Patrick also is the most marketable face in the
Indy Racing League, having graced the pages of FHM
magazine in scant attire alongside a '57 Chevy. The
magazine's Web site lists that April 2003 issue as
long sold out.
But team co-owner Bobby Rahal, winner of the
1986 Indy 500, stresses Patrick "doesn't want to be
the next Anna Kournikova," a reference to the
tennis goddess who never won a Grand Slam singles
"Most importantly," Rahal says, "Danica
understands she has to deliver the goods."
Patrick, an Indy rookie from Roscoe, Ill., who
will be the race's fourth woman entrant, had that
understanding at 16 when she moved alone to England
to race formula cars. The English tracks are well
known as the place where young drivers from Europe
and South America initially prove themselves.
For Patrick, England was a three-year gut check.
She was a three-time national go-kart champion
racing against both genders and knew
she it was time to take the next step.
"It was my college," Patrick says. "England is
great for racing, like Harvard is great for
At 16 she was pushing cars at 200-plus mph
speeds for an English team but still was a year too
young to have a British drivers license. Her first
two months in England, she slept on the couch of a
woman who worked for Jaguar, then Patrick moved
into a 6-by-8-foot room "that was like a
At the tracks, she was less than welcomed. "All
the drivers hung out together, and I was left out
of the equation a lot. They wouldn't call me. It
was boys being boys."
On days when she ran the fastest test laps,
Patrick remembered hearing other team managers
telling their male drivers "she's frigging going
faster. What are you doing?"
That experience steeled the young woman who had
been a cheerleader from the sixth through 10th
"I got really hard over there," Patrick says. "I
got really cold and just hard. I had to be. I had
to get tough."
Her turning point came in 2000 when her team's
top driver got a new car, and she inherited his old
one. With her first quality equipment, Patrick
placed second in the Formula Ford Festival, the
best finish ever by an American.
Among those taking notice was Rahal, who signed
Patrick in 2002 to race in the Toyota Atlantic
series, where in 2003 she became the first woman to
get a top-three finish.
"England is the motor racing equivalent of a
street fight," Rahal says. "If you can go over
there and compete in that atmosphere, it really
speaks volumes not only about your talent but also
your determination. I just thought, why not give
her a chance?"
Team co-owner David Letterman, scheduled to have
Patrick on his Late Show with David Letterman as a
guest Monday, says the decision to sign her was
left to Rahal.
"So lo and behold it turns out he's a genius,"
And if Patrick wins Sunday, Letterman says,
"It'll turn motor sports on its head."
Bringing attention to her sport
The history-setting aspect of a Patrick victory
at Indy would extend far beyond motor sports.
Consider the media storm surrounding Annika
Sorenstam's appearance in the men's Bank of America
Colonial tournament in 2003, even though the golfer
missed the cut.
In mainstream, marquee sports events, jockey
Julie Krone's 1993 Belmont Stakes victory atop
Colonial Affair probably ranks as the most
significant example of a woman prevailing against
the world's best men.
Patrick says it isn't too soon for her to win.
"I hope and expect to win here. I think if the day
goes well and I can make it through traffic and
have a smooth day without any mistakes, I don't see
why I can't."
April 30, at Motegi, Japan, in only her fourth
IRL race, Patrick started from the front row,
finished fourth and led for 32 laps. She still is
looking for her first win in open-wheel racing but
believes once it comes, she will be a consistent
visitor to victory lane.
"I bet you it will get easier," Patrick says.
"You almost learn how to win, you know? It happened
to me in go-karts, too, after I won my first race.
All of a sudden, I just won everything forever. I
think it can happen somewhat like that here."
Patrick believes an Indy victory would do more
for IRL racing than for women drivers. The
Indianapolis 500 has diminished in stature since
1994, when the IRL broke away from the traditional
governing body for Indy-car racing, CART.
"I really want to do this stuff for the series,"
Patrick says of her recent crush of media
interviews. "I want them to have tons of fans. I
want them to have great ratings on TV, and I'll
work extra to help them because it's what's going
to keep me in a racecar. If I'm the most
marketable, then let's go, let's do it."
Another boost for Patrick is that her male
counterparts seem to accept her.
"She doesn't have a ton of experience out here,
but she's driving the wheels off the car for that
level of experience," says Scott Sharp, Indy's No.
3 qualifier. "She's really kept her composure, and
nothing has lessened her confidence."
That was apparent in her qualifying run, when
Patrick veered sideways during the first of four
laps but recovered and went faster in each ensuing
lap. If not for that one bobble, her 10-mile
qualifying time of 2 minutes, 38.5875 seconds
likely would have beaten Tony Kanaan's 2:38.1961
for the pole position.
"I think most people would have gotten
frustrated, but she kept her wits together and put
together a run that was fourth best," Rahal says.
"That really impressed us. A mistake is made and
yet that mistake isn't allowed to negatively affect
the remainder of the run."
After the qualifying run, Patrick says, Kanaan
gave her a memorable thumbs-up while riding by in a
golf cart with driver Dario Franchitti.
"You can tell when it's sincere," Patrick says.
"That was really cool. I felt like, 'Yeah, I belong
Race-day jitters a must
Sarah Fisher, 19 when she first raced at Indy,
lost her sponsor and switched to stock-car racing.
Guthrie was 39 and St. James 45 when they debuted
at Indy, and St. James expects Patrick's youth to
be a big help.
Racing's fresh face
shows us too much
Dressed to thrill. Magazine cover girl Danica
Patrick finished fourth in the Indy 500. AP
Like most of you, I didn't know who Danica
Patrick was as recently as just weeks ago.
Was she, like, the twin sister of the ESPN
Turns out, thanks to the recent Indianapolis
500, Danica Patrick is the hottest name in sports
right now, a smart and talented woman who finished
fourth in that famous race, even holding the lead
late enough to cause some serious excitement. And
she's just a rookie, too. To say she's rejuvenated
a struggling sport is like saying Tiger Woods
Yeah, Danica Patrick is hot, hotter than a car
hood in a July sun.
"Sports Illustrated" even put her on its current
cover, which is really a wondrous thing, seeing as
how the magazine rarely ever puts a woman on its
cover unless she's wearing a string bikini and a
So it's been kind of exciting to see a fresh
female talent emerge like a bright new color in our
This all makes Danica Patrick another excelling
example of what a woman can accomplish in sports,
even in a sport dominated by men, and the focus
they can bring. And this is what many women say
they want, right? They want to be seen for their
sport and not their skin. They prefer athleticism
Danica Patrick appeared to be the perfect new
spokesperson for such a cause.
Until we found out that she's already gone all
Anna Kournikova on us, already selling out by
selling her body to a men's magazine.
Danica Patrick, it turns out, put racy into auto
racing with a photo spread for "FHM" magazine. Now,
"FHM" isn't exactly down the alley of "Playboy,"
"Penthouse" or those other peddlers of pornography,
but it is, at best (or perhaps we should say at
worst) a hardcore R-rated magazine. "FHM" is an
acronym that stands for "For Him Magazine," and as
a lifelong card-carrying member of the male
species, I can tell you that it appeals to the
lowest common denominator in men.
For that matter, it also appeals to the lowest
common denominator for women who agree to pose in
Danica Patrick did agree, and "FHM" showed her
in all sorts of provocative poses, cavorting in,
around and on a car while wearing flimsy
It's not a good combination, nor a good message
she has sent.
The photos are from two years ago, and you wish
you could say that Patrick disrobed for the spread
back when she was young, impressionable and
immature. But she is 23 now, putting her at 21 when
she consented to what we now hope was a momentary
lapse in judgment.
But this is the disturbing trend for female
athletes. It seems we can't have an Olympics
anymore without a handful of female athletes posing
in various stages of undress -- or else undress
entirely. The great Olympic skater, Katarina Witt,
posed for "Playboy." So did Olympic high jumper Amy
Acuff. And others.
Olympic swimmers Angel Martino, Dara Torres, Amy
Van Dyken and Jenny Thompson once posed nude
together in "Women's Sports" and "Fitness" magazine
with an American flag towel the only thing barely
Then there was soccer star Brandi Chastain, who
wanted us to believe that stripping off her jersey
after scoring a dramatic goal was a spontaneous
gesture. But then she followed that up by posing
naked -- save for two soccer balls she was holding
-- for "Gear" magazine.
And the list goes on.
Now we can add Danica Patrick to that list.
Why do women do it?
When Olympic swimmer Jenny Thompson posed naked
in "Gear" magazine, she also posed topless for
"Sports Illustrated," with only her hands covering
her breasts. She said she did it "not to get more
attention or be a sex symbol or anything like that.
I did it because I like to present an image of
strong women, muscular women, for young
Many women, when they're being honest, admit
that they just want more exposure. And there's
nothing wrong with that. But when they start taking
their clothes off, you wonder just exactly what
kind of exposure they're talking about?
Do women want to be taken seriously as sports
athletes, or do they want to be taken salaciously
as sex symbols?
It falls into the universal question that all
men ask, the mantra that we all chant
What do women want?
Some women reason that selling their bodies
sells their sport and brings needed attention to
it. Well, no kidding. If there's any doubt that sex
sells, check out eBay, where "FHM" back issues of
Danica Patrick's photo spread are selling for a
buy-it-now price of -- are you sitting? --
But is the price worth it? No, not the $59.99
price. But the price women pay when they sell
themselves as sex objects.
I mean, really now, which motor is Danica
Patrick more interested in revving?
I don't know.
Like most of you, I didn't even know who Danica
Patrick was until just weeks ago.
I just hope that, from here on out, she chooses
to be a symbol for her sport, and not a symbol for
Catching up with
Born: March 25, 1982, in Beloit, Wis., only because
that's where the nearest hospital was for her
northern Illinois hometown of Roscoe.
Marriage: Patrick will wed her physical
therapist, Paul Hospenthal, 39, on Nov. 19 in
Phoenix, where they live. Patrick is wearing a 4
1/4-carat diamond ring. The two met when team
co-owner Bobby Rahal referred Patrick to Hospenthal
for treatment of a fortuitous hip injury. "I did it
during some stupid 6 a.m. yoga class, where I was
competing with the people on TV," Patrick says.
Children: "It's just not really in the cards
right now. When racing's over, that's the only time
it would happen, but right now it's a no."
Would she want her daughter to race? "I don't
think I'd wish this on anyone. This is a long
process. This is a lot of hard work. I would never
push racing on anyone."
Superstitions: "I have to get in the car from
the left side."
Craziest moment: Beating four-time Trans-Am
champion Tommy Kendall in a pro-celebrity race,
then, collecting on their bet, leading him down pit
road with a collar and leash.
On how she's perceived: "I have so many
different sides to me. People can see me on the
street and never think I was a race car driver. Or
people can see me in pit lane and say, 'That's one
mean chick.' "
On her FHM photo spread (viewable at www.danica
fans.com): "It sure created a lot of stir, and
people still talk about it. I'm more into doing a
Vogue or Glamour photo shoot. Big gowns, that would
be beautiful. That's what I want to do, the
high-fashion stuff. Just really out there, big hair
and makeup. That would be fun."
Mom's take on the FHM photos: "There was only
one that I think I could have done without."
And on how Patrick was treated in go-kart
racing: "I don't know if it was resistance so much
as that no dad wants his boy beaten by a little
girl."-- Tom Weir
"We were kind of at what would be perceived as
the end of our careers, and she is really at the
prime of her career," St. James says. "She's
everything the sport wants and needs right
The go-kart success landed Patrick in St. James'
developmental program at 14. It's where she was
taught about the business and mental side of
St. James says she was struck by Patrick's
presence the first time they talked.
"It's hard to put into words, but there's just
another level that you're looking for with
drivers," St. James says. "A certain poise and a
certain intensity. She had an intensity that is
unusual for someone that age."
Patrick says: "Lyn St. James told me once that
you have to find out what makes you tick, what
makes you work. I was so confused at 14. I was
like, 'Uh, you drive the car, what do you mean
But she learned.
Away from the track, Patrick savors watching
reality TV and spending at least an hour lounging
in men's briefs and a long-sleeved T-shirt every
morning while she reads the newspaper. Another
pastime is reciting dialogue from comic movies like
"Dumb and Dumber," which she has watched about 50
times with her only sibling, younger sister
But on the track she thrives on having the
"I perform really well when I get nervous," she
says. "When my stomach is in knots, I think that
the best comes out of me. I don't know why that is,
and it doesn't feel very good, either."
Good family support system
Patrick's first race, in a go-kart at 10, didn't
bring instant success.
"I couldn't even keep up on the parade laps,"
says Patrick, who fell a lap behind after just six
times around the track.
She was competing only because Brooke, then 8,
had asked to try go-karts. Their father, TJ, a
world snowmobile racing champion in 1978, was happy
to extend the family's racing roots. TJ met his
wife, Bev, when she was working as a mechanic for a
woman snowmobile racer.
Brooke, now 20 and studying to become a physical
therapist at the University of Tennessee, soon had
a race where she crashed four times and she quit.
But her sister was hooked.
"I'd go around the track in maybe 52 seconds,
and then I'd come in and say, 'Was that 51?' "
Patrick says. "Dad would say, 'Yeah, it's 51 now.'
It was that setting out to go faster and doing it;
seeing the improvement that was so satisfying and
confidence-building. It was, 'OK, let's do 50;
let's do 49, 48.' I just got attracted to it."
By the end of her first season, Patrick was
winning go-kart races. Her father says he's
proudest of the closeness the family developed
while making 15-hour drives to races, although he
does remember his youngest daughter often ending
sisterly arguments by saying, "Be quiet. You
wouldn't be here if it wasn't for me."
The Patricks have a successful plate glass
company, which enabled them to pay an annual racing
budget that hit six digits for several years.
"Once you get into it, how do you tell your kid
it's time to stop?" asks Patrick's mom. "You sell a
lot of glass."
Before going to England, Patrick earned a GED,
which her mother wistfully refers to as a "Good
And her mom says the one odd thing about having
a daughter who thrives in the precision-ruled world
of motor sports is that "her punctuality has always
been an issue." When she owned the Java Hut coffee
shop in Roscoe, she says Patrick was perennially
late, and "I had to fire her."
Patrick might have been late then, but she
appears to be right on time for Indy.
Born: March 25, 1982,
Source: Tom Weir, www.usatoday.com/sports/motor/irl/indy500/2005-05-23-cover-patrick_x.htm
For Patrick, focus stays on
Danica Patrick sat perched atop a metal stool on a
small stage Tuesday at Chicagoland Speedway in
Joliet. It may have been the best exposure the
track's annual Indy Racing League event ever has
"You're not going to shoot my feet, are you?''
she asked the six TV crews and a mixed bag of 15 or
so newspaper reporters and other hangers-on.
There's importance in the packaging of Danica
Patrick. The sponsor-emblazoned blue racing suit is
central. She didn't want her
yellow-and-white-striped flip-flops and
red-polished toenails to distract from the
For now, just being the hottest property in
cross-gender sports is enough to draw a media crowd
and media hype and sell just about anything from
antifreeze to an auto race -- in this case, the
Chicagoland Indy 300 on Sept. 11.
"The fact it stepped outside the sports world so
much and went into the Hollywood-style media was
something that I didn't expect, something that is
definitely different and foreign for me,'' said
Patrick, who jumped into the public consciousness
when she qualified fourth for the Indianapolis 500,
then led the race before finishing fourth.
"I don't always know how to answer the question,
'Do you want to be in movies and things one day?' I
don't know how to answer that because I am so
focused on what I am doing.''
That's the completeness of being the
raven-haired star of racing. Patrick seems to grasp
the phenomena of being more than herself.
"You have to keep it all in perspective and you
have to understand,'' she said. "I very much feel
it is a kind of story, and people are following it,
they are interested and excited.''
She took time from a commercial photo shoot to
do the news conference at Chicagoland Speedway.
"What is important is the racing,'' Patrick
said. "As long as nothing sacrifices that area, the
more attention the better -- good attention.''
And it felt right, something true stars have,
the ability to make hype honest.
"I have never been a fake me,'' she said. "I
have always been honest and will always continue to
And, honestly, how is her world?
"Right now I am having the best of both
worlds,'' she said, "in that I am being able to do
fun and exciting things like go to the ESPYs, go to
a [movie] premiere, meet really exciting
people, great athletes and get great seats at
restaurants and stuff like that.
"But I am not hounded. People are not chasing me
or following me. I am very lucky. I have the
glamorous side without the hurt.''
Then the allotted 15 minutes were up, and
handlers hustled her out a side door.
Source: Dale Bowmen, July 20,
Speedway gearing up
for Patrick Her presence has helped ticket sales
for IRL race
Danica Patrick is the centerpiece of Kentucky
Speedway's advertising campaign.
In the games men play, winning sales pitches can
sometimes revolve around fast women.
Fast-driving women, that is.
The anticipated presence of the new diva of auto
racing, Danica Patrick, at Kentucky Speedway next
month has the track's marketing department
operating in high gear.
Patrick is among the Indy Racing League drivers
who are expected to race in the AMBER Alert Portal
Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway Sunday, Aug. 14. She
just happens to be the most famous IRL driver
following her ground-breaking performance in the
Indianapolis 500 in May.
Recognizing a potential sales bonanza, Kentucky
Speedway general manager Mark Cassis ordered an
overhaul of the Speedway's normal promotional
activity leading up to the annual IRL race.
"There's no doubt that Danica is a huge draw,"
Cassis said. "It's our job to make sure people
realize that she's going to be here."
"It's all about exposure, and a hook like that
is a promoter's dream," added Cassis.
Instead of two or three area billboards,
Kentucky Speedway has 15 spread throughout the
region, and they all read, "Catch her if you can,"
with a large headshot of Patrick flanked by smaller
headshots of IRL drivers Sam Hornish Jr. and Dan
Wheldon, who won the Indy 500.
Last year's IRL race at Kentucky Speedway drew
an event-record 61,885 fans, or about 8,000 short
of a track sellout. Cassis said ticket sales are
ahead of that pace by 10,000 tickets.
"We've got something big here in August, and I
think we can sell it out," Cassis said. "That's why
we're investing more money into this event. Driver
awareness levels are up. It won't be long until she
wins, and I hope it's at Kentucky."
In May, Patrick became the first female to lead
the prestigious Indy 500 before finishing fourth,
also a pinnacle for a female driver. Since then,
she has become the IRL's most identifiable driver
with fans, a quality found more often in the NASCAR
world than Indy racing, which has struggled to
promote its drivers until Patrick's surge.
"I mean, if anything, it's about the amount of
attention that's been coming lately," Patrick said.
"Everybody has to understand that it's good for the
sport, no matter how it comes and who it comes
through, as long as the attention is on Indy
Racing, then everybody kind of wins."
Patrick's appearance at Kentucky Speedway will
coincide will an on-site broadcast of ESPN
"SportsCenter," which will set up live that Sunday
at the track for a 6 p.m. show.
Source: By Dustin Dow, Enquirer
staff writer E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Danica Patrick on Record
Danica Patrick knows she still has a lot to learn
to be a championship-contending driver in the IRL
IndyCar® Series. But eight races into her
rookie season, she says she is deserving of high
I'd have to give myself a pretty darn good
grade, the 23-year-old from Roscoe, Ill.,
said. I think I've adapted well to the
situations. I feel comfortable in traffic more and
more all the time. The only times I feel
uncomfortable is when the car is off. That's
normal. Everybody's going to feel like
Despite driving in two oval race prior to
joining the IndyCar series, Patrick has reason to
feel confident about her results in the No. 16
Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Honda-powered
Her two fourth-place finishes and four top-10
finishes have eclipsed the results of several
rookies who went on to win Bombardier Rookie
of the Year, including reigning rookie titlist
Kosuke Matsuura. Shes also led the most lap
of any rookie since Tomas Scheckter in 2002.
Patricks season is on par with the
season of another former top rookie, current
IndyCar Series point leader Dan Wheldon, who
followed up his 2003 Rookie of the Year campaign
with a breakout season in 2004. Wheldon claimed the
first of his seven wins to date in his 19th
At Kansas Speedway, Patrick became the fourth
IndyCar Series rookie to win a pole position when
she won the Marlboro Pole Award for the Argent
Mortgage Indy 300. It was the first pole position
for a rookie since Vitor Meira won the pole at
Texas Motor Speedway in October 2002.
Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny
Rutherford, who serves as a driver coach and pace
car driver for the IRL, said Patrick has all the
tools needed to be a winning race car driver.
"She has excellent hand-eye coordination. She
proved that at Indy when she saved the car a couple
times in dangerous situations, Rutherford
told reporters earlier this year. She has
that look in her eyes. That's the thing that jumps
out at you. It's that little extra spark; that
passion for racing that you look for in a
Winning, though, has proven to be tough for
rookies in the IndyCar Series, especially lately.
Just three true rookies have won in their maiden
season in the series, and two of the wins, Buzz
Calkins win at Walt Disney World in 1996 and
Jim Guthries win at Phoenix in 1997, were
claimed during the series infancy. The last
rookie to win a race was Scheckter at Michigan
Speedway in July 2002.
That doesnt mean that young drivers
cant succeed early on. Sam Hornish Jr.
and Tony Stewart claimed victories in their ninth
and 10th starts, respectively, after slow starts to
their careers. Patrick is confident she can emulate
We've worked well as a team. We've almost
had pole at two races, I think, then finally got
one. I think that's great. I think that my
driving is becoming much more precise and much more
calculated. I feel like I'm maturing pretty well as
I think when the car is right, I can do a
pretty good job, Patrick said. I think
I'm doing a good job. I think if I wasn't, people
would be telling me.
Mania: The Aftermath
Like a lot of people, we were
on the couch Sunday, cheering on Danica Patrick
and, perhaps even more so, David Letterman
at the Indianapolis 500. A friend of ours
was asking us the other day, perplexed, whether or
not we found Danica Patrick physically attractive;
we said that he was wrong to even ask such a
question, that it was offensive, and that yes, we
thought so. (He said he couldnt
Anyway, Danica won Rookie
of the Year honors at the Indy Car Awards last
night they have such things, apparently
alongside Paul Hospenthal, her (much taller)
fiancee. Our marriage expert friends at
About.com have the intimate details of their
relationship, including their wedding date
(November 19; it doesnt mention where
By Tarik El-Bashir,
Washington Post Staff Writer, Saturday, June 25,
Races To The Altar
Hey wait, a wedding, and we
werent invited? It seems that elfin Indy
driver Danica Patrick went and got married over the
weekend, right under our noses, and were just
now hearing about it. And the staffers at Star call
Details are beginning to
leak, though (probably through Robert Novak),
including the name of the groom Paul
Hospenthal his age (40) and his profession
(physical therapist). In fact, the two reportedly
met while Hospenthal was treating her for a hip
injury suffered during a yoga class. We suspect
that to be true because its too stupid to
We had always hoped that
Patrick would hook up with someone proportionally
opposite, such as Shawn Bradley, or Randy Johnson.
Were just kind of weird that way.
'Danica Factor' Drives
Indy Racing League driver Dan Wheldon showed up at
Texas Motor Speedway two weeks ago wearing a
T-shirt with the words "I actually won the Indy
500" across the chest.
Wheldon's face will indeed be engraved on the
Borg-Warner Trophy, alongside the other
Indianapolis 500 champions. But the face of IndyCar
racing this season is that of Danica Patrick, the
23-year-old rookie who drove open-wheel racing back
into the conscience of American sports fans with
her historic performance at Indianapolis last
"I don't think [other drivers] want to
admit that her draw is helping them, but it's the
truth," said Bobby Rahal, the 1986 Indianapolis 500
winner and co-owner of Patrick's Honda-powered
Panoz. "Everyone from sponsors to teams to the IRL
is benefiting from her. She's having the 'Tiger'
effect on TV ratings."
Rahal and other racing executives say Patrick's
talent on the track and marketability off it is
helping the IRL attract a broader audience, much
the way Tiger Woods did for golf in the late 1990s,
and could help open-wheel racing compete with
NASCAR's enormous popularity. They call it the
"There's no question Danica has captured the
imagination of fans in the U.S. and beyond," said
Ken Ungar, the IRL's senior vice president of
business affairs. "Young women are looking at her
as a role model. There's certainly a buzz."
The 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May
29, which was televised on ABC, earned the race's
highest rating since 1996, posting a national
household rating of 6.5 -- up 59 percent from the
previous year, according to Neilsen's Media
Research. The rating peaked at 8.6 when Patrick
dueled with Wheldon for the lead in the closing
laps, outdrawing the NASCAR Nextel race held the
same day for the first time in four years.
At Texas Motor Speedway on June 11, ESPN saw its
ratings jump 150 percent (the 1.0 cable rating was
the largest for an IndyCar race on the network),
despite Patrick's struggles. She finished 13th, the
last car on the lead lap, in front of an estimated
crowd of about 102,000, which was nearly 8,000 more
than the previous year.
While the IRL's numbers at Texas improved, they
also underscored just how far the open-wheel
circuit must go to gain ground on NASCAR, whose
popularity has soared over the past decade while
open-wheel racing's fortunes have sped in the
opposite direction. The IRL's rating at Texas was a
fraction of what the NASCAR event draws on network
television at the same track, and the number of
spectators was roughly half what the stock cars
"I don't think any one driver, whether they are
red, green or brown, is going to be the cure-all
for an entire sport," said Paul Swangard of Warsaw
Sports Marketing Center at the University of
What's more, the breakneck speed of Patrick's
ascent has some drivers, racing officials and
marketing experts worried. What if she doesn't live
up to the hype? What if she becomes the auto racing
equivalent of Anna Kournikova, the Russian tennis
player who attracts far more headlines for her
looks and private life than for her accomplishments
on the court. In six races, Patrick has had mixed
results, posting two fourth-place finishes and four
finishes of 12th or worse.
"Danica has wonderful short-term upside from a
marketing standpoint," Swangard said. "But for
Danica's sake, for the IRL's sake, it's prudent to
be conservative, particularly if she becomes the
Anna Kournikova of racing. That's the type of label
that she would find hard to shake."
Patrick can put those concerns to rest by taking
the checkered flag in Richmond, where she'll start
the SunTrust Indy Challenge from the last row.
Heading into Saturday night's race, expectations
surrounding Patrick are growing. Fans have lined up
several rows deep outside her team's garage area,
hoping to snap a picture or get an autograph.
Patrick's Rahal Letterman Racing team merchandise,
consisting primarily of T-shirts and hats, sold out
at the past two races.
"It hasn't been like NASCAR, but Danica's
merchandise is outselling the rest of the field
combined," Rahal said. "And by a large margin."
Patrick's popularity has prompted her sponsors
to extend their contracts with her, Rahal said, and
it also has attracted more sponsorship
opportunities, particularly from companies that
manufacture products geared toward women. "I guess
the sponsors figure they need to get in while they
still can," Rahal said.
The media haven't been able to get enough of
her, either. Since her fourth place at Indianapolis
-- the best finish for a woman -- she has been on
nearly every network morning show and featured in
national newspapers and magazines. During the week
of the Indianapolis 500, she was in the top five
keywords searched on search engines MSN, Yahoo and
Richmond race officials are hoping to cash in on
Patrick's popularity. One of the race's promotional
slogans is "Get Ready DC, Danica is coming to
Richmond." Posters in Richmond read, "Be there for
Danica's First Race at Richmond International
Raceway. . . . You saw her lead the Indy 500, now
see her race in Richmond."
"We've tweaked our advertising to let people
know, yes, Danica will be racing here," said Keith
Green, Richmond International Raceway's director of
"We are several thousand tickets ahead and
expect a much bigger walk-up -- possibly double --
what we normally have," Green said in an e-mail.
The race has also attracted more requests for media
"I don't let it get to me," said Patrick, who is
5 feet 2 and weighs 100 pounds. "It doesn't make me
feel like I have to do something. The only thing I
hope in the process of all this . . . is that I
want-- I hope -- that IndyCar Racing stays in the
headlines. I hope it isn't only dependent on me. I
hope people won't stray away because I have some
"I'm not going to win every single race, so I
just wish that everyone else gets the same
recognition or at least some of the recognition for
doing great things."
Try telling that to Wheldon. Patrick appeared on
the cover of Sports Illustrated after the biggest
win of his career. In the post-race news conference
following Wheldon's Indianapolis win, he was asked
by a reporter about "spoiling Danica's party."
Wheldon was annoyed. And he was still stinging
weeks later. Patrick's teammates couldn't resist,
either. Buddy Rice's T-shirt read, "Danica's
teammate" and Vitor Meira's said, "Danica's other
Patrick's rise hasn't been without her
detractors or controversy.
Patrick hasn't been able to get through an
interview session without being asked about the
racy photos that appeared in FHM Magazine two years
ago. She posed in a leather bikini, leaning on a
Bernie Ecclestone, the 74-year-old Formula One
boss, told reporters in Indianapolis last week that
women "should be all dressed in white like all the
other domestic appliances."
To Patrick's surprise, she said, he called her
last Saturday and repeated his comments.
"I can't believe that he would say it to me over
the phone, not directly to my face, but directly to
me. I was a bit confused," Patrick said on the
IRL's weekly teleconference Tuesday. "But some of
the conversation was positive and complimentary, so
I really don't know what to think about it."
"I think it's been a bit much for some people,"
Penske driver Sam Hornish Jr. said of Patrick's
popularity. "But she brings attention to the sport,
so overall it's a positive."
Patrick joins 'Race
Divas' lineup Friday, November 25, 2005
IndyCar Series Bombardier Rookie of the Year Danica
Patrick is one of three women drivers who have
signed to become Hostess "Race Divas" under a new
sponsorship agreement with the snack cake
Through the sponsorship program, which debuts in
2006, Patrick will be featured in a range of
promotional activities, including special limited
edition packaging and displays for Hostess
Twinkies, Cup Cakes and Donettes.
"Having grown up with Twinkies and Cup Cakes, I
am thrilled to have Hostess as a sponsor and to be
part of the Hostess Race Divas program," Patrick
said. "It's an exciting opportunity to bring
together America's favorite brand of snack cakes
with the country's favorite spectator sport."
The promotion will also feature NASCAR Elite
Series driver Leilani Munter and NHRA drag
racer Melanie Troxel.
"Interest in women in professional racing
continues to grow, with Danica, Leilani and Melanie
serving as excellent ambassadors for the sport,"
said Kevin Kaul, Hostess marketing manager. "We are
pleased to sponsor these outstanding drivers as
they pursue their dreams and inspire an even more
diverse fan base, and, at the same time, leverage
the opportunity to connect the iconic Hostess brand
with the enthusiasm surrounding racing and women's
increasing prominence in the sport."
Danica Upset With Rule
An Indy Racing League rule change has Danica
Patrick feeling as if she'll be penalized for being
petite - which the popular driver said wouldn't
happen in other sports.
Starting this season, the minimum weight for IRL
cars will include the driver, and Patrick is the
series' lightest at 100 pounds according to the
2007 media guide (which lists other female drivers
Milka Duno and Sarah Fisher at 120 pounds apiece;
Ed Carpenter is the heaviest at 165).
"If someone's going to take the hit it's going
to be me," Patrick said Thursday. "It's
disappointing the league decided to do that. In so
many other sports, athletes don't get penalized for
being too strong, or too tall or too fast.
"(It's) just your God-given stature is being
penalized. What am I going to do, though? It's not
my decision. That's the people higher up (who) made
their bed, and they've got to lay in it."
Patrick said she asked IRL officials about
the reason for the change but said "they didn't
really have one.
"I just follow the rules," she said. "Maybe I'll
get more specific reasons somewhere down the line
IRL spokesman John Griffin said the rule was
intended to reduce the difference between the
lightest and heaviest drivers, which is a gap that
can range from 75 to 100 pounds.
"We want to make absolutely clear this is not a
Danica rule," Griffin said. "You look at guys like
Dan Wheldon and Marco Andretti, and they're light
Griffin wouldn't disclose the cars' minimum
weight but said drivers are broken into three
weight classifications. The heaviest would have
weight reduced from its car while the lightest
would have a maximum 35 pounds of ballast
"It's something that had been looked at and was
in the back of our minds every year," Griffin
Patrick admits to having had a slight speed edge
from weighing less in a sport where lighter means
faster. An Associated Press story in 2005 reported
rival teams estimated Patrick might gain nearly 1
mph because of her weight, and Sprint Cup driver
Robby Gordon said he wouldn't race Patrick in the
IRL until the series equalized weights as NASCAR's
premier circuit does. (Of course Robbie can't get
anywhere close to keeping up with her and I believe
he was needing publicity since he has a big problem
getting sponsorship. Keep eating those burgers big
guy. - Editor)
Patrick hopes to put the issue behind her by
winning the season-opening Gainsco 300 at Homestead
Miami Speedway on Saturday.
"Let's just do that," she said with a laugh,
"and then I'll say, 'Why didn't you guys do this
years ago?' "
Source: Nate Ryan,
Editor's note again: If basically women
* * *
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