Danica: A Hard-Driving Woman

This is an interesting moment in time. The Guardian’s Andrew Lawrence wrote Nascar’s Danica Patrick drove the lonely road to a feminist legacy, briefly noting that “she certainly enjoyed her share of gender firsts – leading 19 laps of the 2005 Indianapolis 500, finishing third in ’09, actually winning a race in Japan the year prior…” Lawrence thoughtfully observed,

It’s also true that the trailblazer’s road is the roughest and loneliest. That much was clear the day I wandered into her garage while covering a 2014 test session at Michigan. Off to one side were a dozen or so boffins, poring over telemetry data. Opposite them was Patrick, sitting by herself, on her phone, scrolling. Before then I thought I knew from loneliness in Nascar, being one of the few black writers who covers the beat. But that scene always comes back, usually when some barfly is droning on about how Patrick has no business operating a race car. It left me wondering how differently things might’ve turned out for her had there been even one other woman among her technical advisors. Likely in that alternative reading, Patrick gets credit for two revolutions: the one Patrick started inside the car and the pit box.

While she is driven, skilled, and persistent, she’s also a one-of-a-kind role model. No doubt that her future will be equally instructive.