Danica Patrick makes motor-racing history

// 20 April 2008

Props to IndyCar driver Danica Patrick, who’s become the first woman to win an IndySeries race, having finished top of the podium in Japan. She finished just over five seconds ahead of Helio Castroneves (who non-petrolheads may know from his appearance on Dancing With The Stars) in her 50th IndyCar race.

The BBC report Patrick as saying: “I’ve been asked so many times when and if I could win my first race and finally, no more of those questions.” Her boss, Andretti Green Racing co-owner Michael Andretti, had fulsome praise for her: “I think Danica is such a fantastic person and I’m thrilled for her that the monkey is finally off of her back. We have all believed in her and she proved today that she is a winner. Frankly, I think this is the first of many.”

Comments From You

Tom // Posted 20 April 2008 at 11:45 pm

Err.. Danica Patrick.. A great racing driver, but, i don’t like that she’s another succesful woman who’s thought it necessary to pose in her knickers/bikini to get noticed.

Not her fault, i suppose, and congrats to her.. just my own little annoyance!

Carrie // Posted 20 April 2008 at 11:50 pm

I share your reservations, Tom, and I guess the best we can hope for is that now she’s won her first race she won’t have to do that any more!

Leigh Woosey // Posted 21 April 2008 at 12:11 pm

We should be careful not to talk about Danica Patrick as if she’s somehow compromised herself by posing for FHM. How she exhibits her sexuality (or not) should have absolutely no bearing on how we assess her sporting acheivements. Equally, if I was famous for something and Gay times wanted to do a photoshoot of me in underwear I would probably be so flattered I’d assent, though I’d be shy to the point of petrified about it!

Carrie // Posted 21 April 2008 at 1:30 pm

Take your point, Leigh, but I’m not entirely sure the photoshoots were devised to celebrate her sporting achievement.

Shev // Posted 21 April 2008 at 1:37 pm

Thank you, Tom and Carrie for immediately making this a discussion about her posing in her skimpies. She’s in a heavily male-dominated field where sponsorship is vital, and she publicised herself in the way that women are told is easiest and most important for them. So what? Yay for her winning, and don’t judge her on what she has to do in order to earn the money that allows her to excel in a male-dominated sport. Even if you can afford to keep your principles pure, not everyone can.

Carrie // Posted 21 April 2008 at 1:40 pm

Shev, I didn’t “immediately” make the discussion about her posing – my original article was totally about her achievement. Tom raised the point; I agreed with him. Leigh’s disagreed, and so have you. That’s what debate’s all about. And nobody’s judging or condemning her for it, either, if you read what’s actually been written.

ines // Posted 21 April 2008 at 4:27 pm

I feel it’s an important issue, succesful women posing in scarce clothing, and we need to talk about it…i mean, we can’t really keep ignoring the issue as if we didn’t care. I appreciate the debate, personally (and feel a bit sad that she had to pose like that too, but not very surprised)

Shev // Posted 21 April 2008 at 5:28 pm

Carrie, I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t actually notice that you’d written the original article, my apologies. I didn’t actually use the word ‘condemn’ (and I’m sure, or at least I hope, that no-one in this environment would condemn a woman’s achievements on account of her posing or otherwise). Tom does, however, state that he ‘doesn’t like’ that she has, in the past, used her body in order to make some money, which is, from a feminist viewpoint, surely missing the point a bit. Sure, women shouldn’t have to use their sexuality as a selling point, but working within a commercial world where this is sadly how they are often valued, often means that this is the most effective way to earn money or publicity, and the women who take this route should not then be placed in that double bind, where you miss the sponsorship boat if you don’t and the principled boat if you do.

This is what I was really responding to, believing that her achievement should stand alone, and not be undervalued because of previous ways of publicising herself and what she has chosen to do with her body. I also think that it is particularly problematic (note: not wrong) for a male feminist to start this debate, given that he will never have that lived experience of knowing that his sexuality is his greatest commercial asset, and is therefore free to make a principled stand without actually having to weigh up the options involved.

I didn’t mean to start a bun-fight – I just wanted to say hurrah for great women drivers =0)

Car Valeting // Posted 21 April 2008 at 7:51 pm

well done danica good on you , so what if she posed who cares , you can take it to far you know.

Tom // Posted 21 April 2008 at 8:18 pm

Shev, what I actually tried to say, badly, was that I was I don’t like it that we live in an era whereby a woman breaking down sporting barriers needs, or feels the need, to do these things which re-enforce the sexal objectification of her gender.

But hey, what do I know. I much prefer F1 to indycar. Indycar is round and round and round and dull.

Danny // Posted 22 April 2008 at 12:03 pm

I know this is wrong of me, but whenever I see a successful sportswoman (someone who has already achieved success, so you’d wonder why she felt the need to do it) posing in a bikini for some horrible lads mag, I just lose respect for and interest in her. I can’t help that bad feeling it gives me. If such successful women won’t give the middle finger to the likes of FHM, what hope is there for the rest of us?!

This is all about saying to women ‘you may have achieved this or that, but it doesn’t matter unless you look good in a bikini’. FHM et al are trying to reduce all women to the lowest common denominator. That the only women who can make a stand against this and actually be listened to don’t choose to do so, I personally find very dispiriting. What they do or don’t do is of course their own business and they shouldn’t be expected to be role models. in addition to everything else. Like I said, I just find it dispiriting.

Sarah // Posted 22 April 2008 at 12:08 pm

I agree the photoshoot is problematic from a feminist point of view, but it also seems problematic to me that what should be a celebration of a woman’s sporting achievement is immediately overshadowed by a nasty bit of ‘slut-shaming’. Can there not be any discussion of a high-profile woman that doesn’t turn into a criticism of her sexual behaviour or ‘morals’?

I’m very happy to hear this news. I’ve been following Danica Patrick’s progress on-and-off for years and she definitely deserves this win, she’s incredibly dedicated and talented as far as I can tell. Not that her acheivements prior to this have been anything to be ashamed of, but this finally proves to the doubters that she is capable of competing and winning.

Carrie // Posted 22 April 2008 at 12:41 pm

Hi Sarah, I don’t think anyone’s criticising her sexual behaviour or morals! All I can see is that some people have expressed discomfort – though not surprise – at the photo shoots, and you too admit that this is problematic. Anyway, can we get back to whoop-whooping for Ms Patrick and crossing our fingers that there’ll be many more top-of-the-podium finishes for her in future?

Danny // Posted 22 April 2008 at 1:00 pm

Sarah, I’m not disputing Danica Patrick’s talent, dedication and achievement. And I don’t think I (or any of the other commentators here) am indulging in so-called ‘slut-shaming’. I would never label anyone a ‘slut’. Also, Danica’s sexual behaviour or ‘morals’ is certainly none of my or anyone’s business, even if I knew anything about it and was interested!

I think the general point being made here is, as Tom states, that it’s depressing how some sportswomen (or women achieving success in other areas) feel the need (for whatever reason) to do things which re-inforce sexual objectification of their gender. I also think it’s ultimately self-defeating, because once they’ve done it that’s what a lot of people focus on, so it ends up being a distraction and deflecting attention from what they’ve achieved. I’m sure that wouldn’t be the result they were looking for.

Sarah // Posted 22 April 2008 at 1:02 pm

Apologies if I misunderstood the intention of the comments, it just seemed unfortunate that the discussion immediately turned to that subject.

“Anyway, can we get back to whoop-whooping for Ms Patrick and crossing our fingers that there’ll be many more top-of-the-podium finishes for her in future?”

I agree 100% with this bit!

Mark Kuramoto-Headey // Posted 22 April 2008 at 1:07 pm

Re: Danica Patrick

Fantastic. A woman who has beaten the men at their own game. Perhaps Jensen Button will finally go and disappear up his own a***.

Actually, I’ve just had a look at the infamous “swimsuit” photos and a rather controversial thought occurred to me; here is a woman who is so good looking that she could simply have traded on her looks alone and made a pretty good living. However, she has both the drive and ability to do something of world-beating standard and has chosen not to take the easy route but prove to the world she has skills most of us can barely imagine. In some fields insecure men might have been able to accuse her of trading on her looks. However, once you’re behind the wheel of a car then looks are of no consequence what-so-ever. Such men have truly had their misogynistic arguments shattered. All power to her. May she win many more races.

J. Gozalez // Posted 21 May 2008 at 4:54 am

If you go to you tube and play as many videos as you can with Danica in them you find a women who so advanced that you comments on her posing are just plain narrow minded. She could care less what you think. She is doing and you are not.

Becky // Posted 28 May 2008 at 3:28 pm

I was very sad to see Danica Patrick’s photos in FHM. She is so talented at what she does in the racing world that it just seems pretty tragic that she thinks this sort of photography is necessary.

Granted, she is a beautiful girl, but I think she’s just as beautiful and really MORE appealing in her racing garb.

We see photos of half naked women all the time, so what’s new…she has just become a part of the norm when she was such a rare gift to all of us women who believe we can compete with men in most areas of life.

I wish she had just stayed “Danica”…the WOMAN who WINS races without sinking to the level of “sexploitiation”.

She has lowered herself in my eyes, and is no longer in the same class as the men who just work hard to win.

Eff One // Posted 11 June 2008 at 8:34 am

You would think she would want to be marketed on her acheivements on the track, not her curves though.

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