Move over Danica

February 27, 2008
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MilkaThere could be as many as four women drivers in this year’s Indy Racing League season. Danica Patrick and Sarah Fisher already have signed deals to race this year. Yesterday, Venezuelan Milka Duno signed to race several events for Indianapolis-based Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Champ Car veteran Katherine Legge also may get a ride.
Duno will keep her sponsor from last year, Citgo, and is expected to try to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. With her limited experience at the highest level of open-wheel racing, that will be a tall order in the first season following the unification of IRL with Champ Car. At least 40 cars are expected to try to qualify for 33 spots at Indy.

Duno and Legge have the looks and personality to make a big splash in the unified series, but some motorsports insiders question their driving ability. Duno, who lives in Miami, made seven IRL starts with SAMAX Motorsport during the 2007 season. Duno’s best finish was 11th at Texas Motor Speedway. Duno is a certified Naval engineer and has earned four master’s degrees-three of them simultaneously. In late March, she will be releasing a children’s book, “Go, Milka, Go!”  It features Duno as a cartoon character sharing the importance of education to children. Duno will make her big-screen debut on May 9 as a part of the Warner Bros. movie “Speed Racer.” She’ll play the role of Kellie “Gearbox,” fittingly, a race car driver.

Legge, who is British, has tested and driven for several Champ Car teams, including Dale Coyne Racing, the past two years. And she has done something the other three have not-won a major open-wheel race. She was victorious in Champ Car’s Atlantic series Long Beach race in 2005. She recently signed a deal to drive for the Audi factory team in the German-based DTM Series in 2008, but still could be available for select IRL races.

Danica is a hot property on and off the track. Which of the other three is best positioned to challenge her?
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  • I would like to see a women's racing league. I think more women would get involved and we would see an interesting different kind of racing. The women who are competing with the men now just can't get the job done. It appears that the men just try to stay away from them and it really detracts from the race.
  • Really?! It seems to me that the drivers try to avoid AJ Foyt IV. I think
    that there have been male drivers out on the tracks for years that
    have not won or lead a race. Up until recently, they have generally
    also had better equipment than any of the ladies. Go Girls!
  • At least the author got it correct. The author states that there could be up to four female drivers. Nother was said about four female 'racers.' Danica is a racer. Don't know anything about Legge. Sarah and Milka, no disrespect intended, are not racers in this league. They are very much field fillers. At Texas, Milka did finish 11th and Sarah 10th, however both drivers were 7 laps down which was last amongst drivers that had no mechanical problems during the race. Sarah with good equipment could move up, but would not challenge for a victory. Milka should not be in this series regardless of equipment. She is a hazard to herself and others.
  • Regarding Stars comments...Very true. Several drivers regardless of gender could be named as non racers. However this article was dealing specifically with the 'ladies.' Therefore I mentioned nothing about male drivers.
  • Well Jay, you were certainly quick to mention that of the four women Anthony listed only Danica was a true racer and the others just field fillers. I know it is off the blog subject but how many male drivers are truly just field fillers? How many has Tony George funded to get a full field for the 500? As Star says most drivers are trying to avoid AJ Foyt IV and I will add Dr. Jack Miller the IRL's racing dentist and Jon Herb. Open wheel fans should celebrate more women racing if it helps gain exposure for the sport that needs all the fans it can get. If having four females driving gets coverage on ESPN I bet Tony George will take it.
  • I don't care if they can't drive if they all look like Danica and Duno I'd watch every race. If IRL wants to compete with NASCAR they should have a wet T-Shirt contest or mud wrestling with those ladies after every race. They would sell out every time. So who cares they can't drive it's not about the driving skills it about putting people in the seats and making the track owners money so just deal with it and enjoy the view. I do………..
  • Unless something's changed, it was already announced a week ago that Legge was going to race for Audi in DTM. Milka coming back is a true tragedy. She gets black-flagged almost every race for going too slow and her interviews are painful (I think it is a very good car - then why are you going so darn slow?!!!). Sarah could be competitive if she had a decent ride. Don't know if her newly formed team will have the money to do that, but we'll see. Danica has the ride, so she's out of excuses. She needs to win a race. If Sarah gets equipment comparable to Danica's (talking cars here), she could make a challenge.

    As for dangers on the track, I personally think that Kosuke Matsuura caused more accidents than anyone over the past few years, but that shouldn't be a problem anymore.
  • Anthony. Do you have a picture of Legge you can post?
  • Sally just to a Google search for Legge and you will find pictures.
  • Sally, I'll try to get a photo put up. In the meantime, here's a Champ Car link that shows a head and shoulders shot and gives you some bio information.
    http://www.champcarworldseries.com/Drivers/Driver.asp?ID=347
  • Duno is a threat to every driver on the track. Not a threat in that she might win a race, but a threat that she'll be going so slow that she'll cause a major accident. Having attended several IRL events where Milka Duno was driving (or something like driving,) it was interesting to note that Barnhart kept telling her team to either get her up to speed or he was going to park her car. In most instances he parked her car. Legge is another matter. After her crash at Road America, it's difficult to believe she'd ever want to drive again. But she does.
  • Katherine Legge can drive. If she gets in the IRL and has a decent car, she'll be a major attraction, and a force on the track. And I agree, Milka has a long way to go, but I'm not sure I'd rate her an absolute lost cause.

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