Sunday, April 20, 2008

Made of Win.

Danica Patrick became the first woman to win an Indy Car race at the Twin Ring Motegi track in Japan yesterday. I don't even remember what I was doing at age 26, but whatever it was, it was positively slacker-like by comparison.

33 comments:

Shard said...

When Danica appeared on the Indycar scene, I was still one of the 'screw open wheel racing and their Indy/CART split' crowd. She was, I thought at the time, just a pretty face to try and bring some fans back. I was "Made of Wrong." Over the last three years or so I have come back to Indycar racing as a true fan. Even moreso now that the leagues are merging. Good on ya, Danica and team!

Now if we could just Formula 1's collective head out of its ass.....

And Tam, I think you protest too much. I bet at 26 you were a hawt little speed demon in your own right. ;-)

Shard said...

Now if we could just get Formula 1's collective head out of its ass.....

Duh.....

Don Gwinn said...

Everybody's got to use their gifts, and she's a gifted driver.

Don't take this the wrong way, Tam, but I've noted your gift for slacking on many occasions. I don't think I could live your life.

Now I'm off to hang drywall on a Sunday morning, because I have a sick compulsion.

Farmer Frank said...

I am absolute die-hard open wheel race fan and while I was critical of Danica and her hype at first, I sincerely believe she is the real deal.

Kevin said...

There are many racers who reach her level of competition and never win a race. They do well, top ten finishes, even placing second, but never winning. Still, they are in the top 1% of humanity for the skills required to go very fast and not die.

She's the real deal, and I congratulate her on her win.

Jeffro said...

The He Man Woman Hater's Club has already jumped on the fact she won with a fuel strategy rather than dominating the field. So, the win isn't as genuine since she won backing it in.

Well, I got news for ya, Spanky - she won because she had a good team with a good strategy. Her hawt looks have helped publicity and obtaining sponsorship off track, but it's the driving talent that put her in the position to win. There is no asterisk beside her mark in the win column.

OA said...

I'm confused...I kept hearing how it didn't matter that she was a woman, she was just another driver, that women are just as good as men. Yet she finally gets a win and the attention it's gotten is incredible. Seems rather contradictory.

Johnny said...

It's yet another harbinger of The Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse (TIZA).

Check 6.

Timmeeee said...

She won because she achieved better fuel consumption. Do ya think it might have something to do with the fact that she weighs 50-100 lbs less than her competitors?

Tam said...

Good try, but most open-wheel drivers, like most sportbike racers and fighter pilots, are little dudes. It's not like we're comparing Nadia Comaneci to the defensive line of the Crimson Tide, here. The average Indy Car driver weighs something like a buck sixty.

(And how come when a guy wins on brains nobody throws his ass on a scale? Jeff Gordon's a smart driver! But this girl's just lucky 'cause she's light.


Give me a break.

Tam said...

PS:

Two words: Shirley effin' Muldowney.

OA said...

"And how come when a guy wins on brains nobody throws his ass on a scale? Jeff Gordon's a smart driver! But this girl's just lucky 'cause she's light."

I've heard plenty of NASCAR fans bitching about races being determined by fuel or the yellow flag. Hell, it's one of many reasons why I don't watch it...then again, I'm not exactly a NASCAR fan. Regardless, most of the ones that talk about "pit strategy" are new fans that parrot what they hear the top NASCAR brass say when they're turd polishing.

Jeffro said...

Danica is attracting so much attention with this win because she is a woman, period. My point is she has the talent necessary to "run with the big boys." She's not the first woman by any means. Janet Guthrie and Lynn St. James raced open wheel long before Danica, but they competed in outdated and underfunded equipment. Danica has been provided competitive equipment.

The NHRA has had winning women competitors for years, starting with Muldowney. John Force's daughter Ashley is kicking some serious butt these days, and there is a woman in drag bikes who's name escapes me that does the same.

As for the weight issue, the IRL includes the driver in their minimum weight requirement. They all weigh the same when they go through tech.

In Nascar, Shawna Robinson did fairly well in the feeder series, but she got married and retired to raise her kids. Patty Moise's history is similar. Erin Crocker was probably sidelined by her affair with the boss. Currently, Mike Wallace's daughter Crissie (and Rusty's niece) is doing rather well in the ARCA series and her Nascar debut in the truck series was considered a success. But, she is just a kid, and it will take time for her to be groomed much as the other successful drivers have done. Her team is considering a full time ride for her in trucks next year.

So, it is news because Danica is a woman and wins, because it has been a rare event for various reasons. She won because she has the ability to do so.

og said...

Danica is an excellent driver and a good strategist.

Painfully, she's also a dick, according to a few up close stories I've heard about her. Don't make her less a driver.

With her driving skills, if she had the attitude of say, Helio Castroneves, she'd be the most beoved person in racing.

OA said...

Jeffro, none of that addresses the point that either she's good for a chick or she's good period. The "grrrl power!" that's going on right now points to the former rather than the latter, which is a damn shame, given that she's got the potential to actually be more than a sideshow.

Tam said...

Oh, she's good period.

But you can't expect people who've heard "You shoot/throw/drive like a girl" all their lives to stand by and watch this without a bit of a sack dance.

Put the shoe on the other foot, if you can, and look me in the eye and tell me you'd react any different. If you do, you're lying.

Anonymous said...

"Now if we could just get Formula 1's collective head out of its ass...."

Hmm. Kinda explains the whole nazi orgy scandal from the other day.

OA said...

Tam said...
Oh, she's good period.

But you can't expect people who've heard "You shoot/throw/drive like a girl" all their lives to stand by and watch this without a bit of a sack dance.

Put the shoe on the other foot, if you can, and look me in the eye and tell me you'd react any different. If you do, you're lying.

8:41 PM, April 20, 2008

Actually, I can expect them to behave like adults rather than sticking their tongues out like children. But hey, I'll play the game.

No man has ever heard he can't cook. No man has ever heard he can't communicate as effectively as a woman. No man has ever heard he can't raise a child with the same skill as a woman. No man has ever heard he can't grasp language to the degree that a woman does. No man has ever turned on the teevee to see virtually every man living up to some trite stereotype that revolves around him being an incompetent boob.

Put the shoe on the other foot? Indeed. Double standards and only seeing through one's eyes whilst requesting others see through yours. Interesting.

Men and women excel at different things. There are exceptions, of course, but pretending they don't is folly...or have you been locked away from society for the past few decades? Turns out women make lousy men and men make lousy women. And are you really willing to argue that men don't as a rule throw better than women? Or that women's compassion doesn't make them better General Practitioners? Why sack dance at nature?

ironpacker said...

Race drivers like fighter pilots, depend on courage,eye hand coordination,and desire to win. None of these qualities are limited to a specific gender. I mean it's not like she had to carry the car over the finish line.

Jeffro said...

Jeffro, none of that addresses the point that either she's good for a chick or she's good period. The "grrrl power!" that's going on right now points to the former rather than the latter, which is a damn shame, given that she's got the potential to actually be more than a sideshow.

So, basically it is a matter of opinion whether she is good enough to stand on her own talents or if she is given a break because she is a "grrrl." This isn't a case of her playing offensive tackle for the NFL, a center in the NBA, or even golfing with Tiger. The physical demands of her job don't even compare.

I prefer to side with Michael Andretti. He isn't limited in his choice of drivers, and he chose Danica. Racing is a business, and winning is part of the successful recipe.

But, only time will tell. If she goes off on a winning streak, all this will be of no consequence. If she doesn't perform, she'll lose her job, just like countless racers before her.

OA said...

ironpacker said...
Race drivers like fighter pilots, depend on courage,eye hand coordination,and desire to win. None of these qualities are limited to a specific gender. I mean it's not like she had to carry the car over the finish line.

10:58 PM, April 20, 2008

Uh, what? Unless a woman's child is in danger her brainstem tells her to get the hell out of dodge rather than being courageous. There are clearly exceptions, but men tend towards cannon foddering themselves more than women. It's nature, and easily verifiable with your own two eyes (goes against modern "everyone is equal!" programming, though). Further, men test higher when it comes to natural eye–hand coordination (that, however, can be trained for easily enough).

OA said...

Jeffro, by and large, I agree. However, racing is indeed business, and business, especially one so dependant on sponsors, involves selling. You'll note she's one of four talented drivers Andretti has. She is, however, the only one that can be seen in FHM and the like. She's already shown that she's willing to sell, and damn good at it. It's a sound business decision even if she never wins another race. Or at least will be one until she gets a little older or someone better looking comes along.

Tam said...

"No man has ever turned on the teevee to see virtually every man living up to some trite stereotype that revolves around him being an incompetent boob."

You should read my best friend's blog sometime...

Timmeeee said...

Tam, you don't know what you are talking about:

"Gordon stated the day before the race that because Patrick weighs just 100 pounds, her car is lighter than everyone else in the field. Unlike other series, the IRL does not include a driver when setting its weight limit.

In NASCAR, where Gordon currently competes, the minimum weight requirement includes the driver.

But in the IRL, a car must weigh 1,525 pounds before the fuel and driver are added. A smaller driver would have at least a slight edge over heavier ones because of the rule."

http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/
8051152


"Sam Hornish Jr., who weighs roughly 60 pounds more than Patrick, said two days before the race that the size difference gave her an edge.... Hornish's bosses at Penske Racing even figured out the mathematical advantage Patrick had."

http://sports.espn.go.com/rpm/
news/story?series=irl&id=2073175

"Patrick, who finished second in the IRL's most recent street course race last fall at Detroit, also points out that most Indy car drivers are diminutive, suggesting there isn't much of a difference. But at 5-foot-2, 100 pounds, she is 20 pounds lighter than the next lightest driver, Milka Duno, and 93 pounds lighter than the heaviest, newcomer Justin Wilson, according to media guide figures."

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/
apr/01/sp-danicas-weight-sparks-
debate/?sports

"The IRL does not consider the weight of the driver in its race specifications. While cars must weigh a minimum of 1,525 pounds before the fuel and driver are added, drivers are not weighed.

Less weight could give Patrick two advantages - quicker speeds and less fuel consumption, which could be a key in a 500-mile race."

http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/
printDS/77435

Jeffro said...

timmeeee: Your first, second and fourth articles are dated 2005. The third dated in 2008 has some of the correct information.

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 added.

She did have a weight advantage in the past. Now? Not so much. I was mistaken when I said all the cars weigh the same. But, the differences are negligible. I'd be careful about saying Tam doesn't know what she's talking about when you haven't kept up with the rule changes.

I'm tired of this nitpicking. I'm done.

Will said...

For those of you harping about Danica's weight "advantage", you might want to consider the downsides of that.
One, women have less upper body strength than men of the SAME weight.
Two, less weight and strength means she is working closer to her maximum physical capabilities right from the start. In a long race, this can be a huge factor in maintaining competitive control of the vehicle.
Three, a lighter driver/vehicle package does not automatically make it better. Less weight makes tires stick less. If the HP is high enough to spin the tires, you have increased the problem with less weight transfer to the drive wheels. Same problem with the front tires wanting to slide sooner under braking. Tuning the suspension becomes more difficult, as you can't lower the unsprung weight to compensate.
The only real advantage is slightly quicker acceleration IF the car can put the power to the ground. If you have some sort of traction control to keep the tires from spinning, it's good. If not, the driver is the control, and each little bit of tire spin degrades the tire that much sooner, leading to marginal control as the race goes on. THAT is a liability, as you go slower, or crash.
I only weigh 15 lbs more than Danica, so I speak from personal experience.

butch_s said...

Does the IRL stipulate a standard location for where the extra ballast must be placed?

The biggest benefit of a lighter driver isn't just their lack of weight, but that their lack of weight means that much more ballast can be placed where it does the most good in the car.


Anyway, grats to Danica for the win, I hope she can make a habit of it. :)

OA said...

"I only weigh 15 lbs more than Danica, so I speak from personal experience."

Do you also have experience with the downforce that an Indy car's aerodynamic package creates? Doesn't sound like it.

Farmer Frank said...

You know a lot of the controversy over Danica's weight and strength would become a moot point if the IRL added three or four of the old dirt track races back into the schedule and then outlawed power steering!

I'll betcha a full 2/3ths or more of the current crop of drivers, both male and female, would drop out of a 100 lapper complaining of upper body fatigue. A number wouldn't even stick around after five laps of practice.

I asked Jeff Green (a NASCAR driver) how he would do if they took power steering away from the taxi-cabs and he said, "I wouldn't know because I couldn't drive one without it." Knowledgeable man!

All The Best,
Frank W. James

José Giganté said...

I've followed American Open Wheel for over 30 years and this woman really has brought out the misogynists in racing like no other. I guess its because she's pretty and shows up in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition.

The idiots here posting their ignorant thoughts are nothing compared to what you'll find on open wheel racing forums, those guys really get after it.

I for one have liked DP since she entered Formula Atlantics with Rahal's team and haven't seen a reason to not like her.

OA said...

Wow. So all this is just woman hating, eh? Yup, no valid points brought up, everyone that criticizes (in what world is criticism equal to hate? you do know what hate actually means, don't you?) her does so because she sits down to pee.

Tam said...

Shit, I had no idea that the key to success in IRL/CART was just to find some anorexic and tell 'em to go easy on the throttle to save gas.

Think how idiotic all those team owners who've spent money to hire talented drivers must feel right now! If only they'd known...

OA said...

That's jockeys, Tam. :)