Ding dong, Danica era is dead

August 25, 2011
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Danica Patrick has become a bad distraction for the IndyCar Series.

As much as she’s done for the open-wheel series, she’s been a real pain for the series the last three years. She hasn’t been terribly competitive on the track, and the focus on the ‘will she or won’t she’ leave scenario is taking attention away from where it should be, on the real front runners, and the sponsors that power them.

Dealing with the annual rumors of Patrick’s departure will at long last come to an end today when Patrick and her sponsor—Go Daddy—publicly announce her plans to drive over to NASCAR full time next year.

There is no shortage of media outlets pontificating on how Patrick’s departure will lead to the demise of the IndyCar Series. Like a band-aid covering a scab, it’s time to tear Patrick away from the series. Be done with it.

Patrick isn’t the series’ biggest problem, and she’s certainly no cure-all either. The current attendance figures and television ratings bear that out.

But Patrick’s daily flirtations with everything NASCAR have to be a serious distraction for IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard and a cumulative detraction from all the progress he’s made.

The focus on Patrick’s saga is only part of the damage she’s brought to IndyCar. She not only takes focus away from competitive IndyCar drivers and the growth of the series, but it also puts the spotlight on the notion that all IndyCar drivers want to leave for NASCAR, well, because that’s where all the money and fans are. So what’s the IndyCar Series? The only alternative is the minor leagues.

The open-wheel series needs to distance itself from that idea, and Patrick in the process. Here’s hoping she doesn’t return to Indianapolis. That race can get along just fine without her, and the sooner the world realizes that, the better.

Another thing I fear that Patrick has done is create this idea that every woman who wants to make it as a race car driver has to be a sex symbol.

While there are women with real talent and dedication in racing such as Simona de Silvestro and Ana Beatriz who do not try to make themselves into a cover girl, there are no shortage of young women in racing feeder series nationwide—even globally—who  have taken a cue from Patrick’s Maxim magazine spread, and are as worried about their glamour shots as they are improving their on-track results. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably following at least one of these women on twitter.

Long live Danica—thankfully starting next season that will be in NASCAR. Hopefully, her legion of wannabes will follow after her to the land of the fendered cars.

For my part, I think it would be better for the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500 if someone like de Silvestro or Beatriz—someone who is truly and totally dedicated to the sport of open-wheel—becomes the first female winner of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

There was a time when Patrick winning the Indy 500 would have been the greatest thing for the series. Now, it would only serve to sour the milk in victory circle.

  • Anthony is Spot On
    I couldn't agree more. NASCAR is a perfect place for Danica Patirck, a contrived, "personality-driven," soap-opera on wheels. Shallow. Simple. In NASCAR her overall mediocrity will be allowed to sustain
    her existence as a so-called race car driver under less scrutiny and criticism.

    But here is my prediction: Five years from now she will be out of the sport altogether. Wealthy, yes. But a passe pop culture phenomenon. Ten years from now, she'll be a trivia question.

    I never liked the Danica Patrick idea or the monster it created. It took a modestly attractive woman (face it...on the street would you look more than twice?) and a modestly talented lower-level formulae mid-packer and turned her into a monstrosity that suggests are society's less virtuous and intelligent impulses.

    Danica is to racing what Brittney Spears is to pop music. And about as critically relevant.
  • Don't Expect Success
    She will be an advertising draw, a moderate ticket draw, and will no question make more money in NASCAR, but do NOT expect her to have any meaningful success as a Driver.

    Probably a good move from a business perspective, but if you want results to justify it don't hold your breath.
  • Doesn't Belong
    She doesn't belong in NASCAR either.
  • Sour Grapes
    A blogger who doesn’t know what he’s talking about should not go around shooting off his mouth.

    “... she’s been a real pain for the series the last three years. She hasn’t been terribly competitive on the track...”

    Not competitive during the last three years? I believe that includes 2009 and 2010. Pay attention:

    The top two teams in IndyCar, Penske and Ganassi, have dominated IndyCar for the past several years.

    At the close of the 2009 season, out of the 40 drivers competing that year, Dario Franchitti (Ganassi) won the championship; number two was Scott Dixon (Ganassi), number three was Ryan Briscoe (Penske) and number four was Helio Castroneves (Penske).

    Number five was Danica Patrick.

    And anyone who still doubts her abilities should study her two best races of 2010:

    At Texas, starting near the back of the pack, battling aggressively with driver after driver to get to the front, she beat them all but one Penske driver with a faster car. Roger Penske, the most respected owner in racing, said after the race, "I take my hat off to Danica. She was terrific tonight." A headline the next day declared, "Danica Goes Toe-to-Toe With The Big Boys."

    At Homestead, starting again near the back, she fought her way up among the leaders and during the last 19 laps battled lap after lap with the 2004 IndyCar champion, Tony Kanaan, wheel to wheel, inches apart, at close to 230 mph, finally faking him out and darting down below him to cross the finish line a nose ahead for 2nd place, beating every driver in the field except one Ganassi driver with a faster car.
    • Danica
      You know you're a female NASCAR driver if you:

      * Cut your hair leaving a mullett
      * Drives the Viagra car
      * Have your husband acussed of wearing the
      driver suit in the family
      * Thinks Kyle Busch is hot
      * Drives with Playtex racing gloves

    • She's not the problem
      The bigger distraction for Indy Car is the Chief Steward. Brian Barnhart needs replaced.
    • Danica
      Good Bye Danica, I for one will not miss you and your spoiled tantrums. Sorry Nascar, for your gain...............
    • Give credit where credit is due
      Let's not forget that Danica was part of the rejuvenation of the IndyCar series. The fact that she is getting media attention for her "go or do not go" decision proves that the series and its sponsors are not relevant, with or without Danica. If there was better IndyCar news to cover, wouldn't you have written your article about that topic?
      And to purport "that every woman who wants to make it as a race car driver has to be a sex symbol" is preposterous. Like as many of her male counterparts who have been given the opportunity, Danica capitalized on her on-track success and built her professional image (How many opportunities do you think Simona de Silvestro and Ana Beatriz have been offered?). It's all too typical for men to discredit an attractive woman's success but to see that vein of sexism present in a professional journal is offensive. The face remains, you don't have to be an unattractive woman to be successful in any field.
      Danica's success on and off the track speaks for itself - she has received attention as a competitive driver in the series and has inspired a group of people that may otherwise not have paid any attention to her or any of the other drivers in IndyCar.
    • The irl is irrelevant.
      If it was more than 1 race, she wouldn't be leaving. Only the NFL is more popular than Nascar. The best drivers are there. The money is there. Why stay?

      She did a lot for the league, yet many irl fans have turned on her. They think that she owes IMS for her success.

      It used to be that winning the Indy 500 made the man. But who outside of a few forums could pick Franchitti or Wheldon out of a line-up?

    • NASCAR needs DANICAR
      Reason being, NASCAR is not as popular as it once was, and the "second to the NFL" bs is FranceSpeak. The sport is in a decline. A gradual one, but a decline nontheless. There is no way the sport has a larger following than Major League Baseball or the National Basketball Association or college football. Not even close.

      DANICAR is to NASCAR what she was to INDYCAR. The hopeful savior. She'll get richer, but at the end of the road, she'll still be dismissed as a modestly talented race car driver and the series will be smaller.

      This is just how it is. Major auto racing in this country is headed back to third tier.

      Live with it.
    • Sayonara Mrs. Hospenthal
      As a lifelong Indy Car fan, I thank Danica for the eyeballs and fans she brought to the races. She broke a lot of ground. As racing fans we should be appreciative of that.

      Maybe one day we will find out how she really feels, but until then we are stuck with merely her brand. The reason she is going to NASCAR is because she brings funding and because her agency, IMG, sees an opportunity to use her to make millions upon millions of dollars. Their (and her) real money won't be made on the track...it will be made via endorsements and merchandising. That is the way of the world these days. If in Danica's Indy Car place we get a real race driver who gives us as much or more excitement on track, I will be happy.

      Meantime, we should echo those who possess sportsmanship and wish her well in NASCAR. She has a better opportunity than most to do OK.
    • hmmmmm....
      Let's see - there is a world class racing series about to begin 3 days of on track action at IMS, and they just might draw more than NASCAR did this year...yet Anthony continues to ignore it and ramble on about his facination with Danica.

      What is wrong with this picture? I'll tell you what! You all have become a bunch of whiney mealy mouthed gossip queens more interested in Princess Perma-Pout and her antics than you are about racing. THAT'S WHAT.

      Its really sad how bad the racing community has sunk over the last 15 years. the Indy 500 - 1/2 the race it used to be. American Open Wheel Racing - destroyed to the point they are renting tracks and holding "festivals of speed" with 10 year old spec crapwagons run by a field of has beens, never weres, and ride buyers. Its everything that sucked in CART and the very worst of the IRL, all rolled up and stuffed into some 3rd rate TV Channel nobody knows about. The officiating is horrid, and the stands are empty.

      So, a REAL racing series comes to town, with outstanding world class talent, at a very reasonable ticket cost, and not ONE word written about it?

      Hmmmm....look in the mirror, you just might see who is responsible for the state of racing in Indy these days....
    • Grow Up
      Wow. The wah-wah machine is in high gear today.
    • NASCAR Popularity Nonsense
      The statement about Nascar being second only to the NFL in popularity is nonsense. Based on either attendance or television viewership it doesn't even come close to college football, college basketball, major league baseball, or the NBA. Now, Nascar will hang their hat on attendance at ONE race a week and television viewership at ONE race a week but you have to realize that the other sports have TONS of events every week. One Big Ten football game alone at Michigan, Penn State, or Ohio State draws as many or more fans than most Nascar races do. And that's ignoring the rather major fact that there are something like a hundred other games that week across the nation. When you add up the weekly attendance and weekly tv viewership for other sports Nascar isn't even in the same ballpark...no pun intended. Nascar (and all US racing) is a niche/cult sport. The people that love it really love it but it doesn't amount to much relative to mainstream sports
    • They tried and failed
      NASCAR flirted with mainstream popularity and just about got there in the 1998-2005 timeframe. This is loosely the era of Brittney Spear's at Daytona, John Kerry saying, and I paraphrase, "who among us doesn't love NASCAR?", the attempts at getting a speedway built in New York City, and hiring clowns like former NBA stars to be color analyst's in contrived stick and ball-like panel shows. Of course, this brought the playoff-like "CHASE" with even a "wildcard" now, NASCAR officials posing and posturing like NFL referees, the "All Star" race, drivers acting hip and irreverant or polished for prime time like Gordon, and broadcasters telling everyone Fontana was essentially down the street from Hollywood and Vine,The Sporting News dissecting NASCAR like boxscores, and subtle hints from NASCAR at ball sport-like entities such as physical conditioning coaches, pit crew trainers, putting a dufus like Carl Edwards on a magazine cover without a shirt in another fruitless attempt to show drivers are, indeed, athletes, starting up a Hall of Fame, and so on and son and and so freaking stupid on...

      ...All pablum puke poopy-doo, of course, because you can't turn a J.D. McDuffie and Jimmy Means hillybilly sport into an MTV reality show filmed in a Knott's Landing neighborhood without non-racing fans eventually losing interest due to boredom and lack of authenticity, or realizing, as many did, they have been had.

      Indy Todd is correct. It is a niche sport. A very popular niche sport with the loyalists, but a niche sport nonetheless.

      Danica is the latest effort at reviving the sport for one last try at mainstream acceptance. The media will fall in line and it will appear so for a litle while but because she is not overly talented, unless wins are outright dictated, she will become the Kournikova of the sport and in due time, two, three years, if that, be dismissed by curiosity fans, just as those same people are dismissing NASCAR altogether.

      NASCAR, much like IndyCar racing, and other motorsports as well, have had their day as close-to-mainstream, entities. Racing will never again be a "major league"-level sport. The Indy 500 may survive. We'll see. But NASCAR's days as a NFL-challenging sport are as lost as all the old lies.
    • @Da Hooey
      Versus is not a third rate tv channel, it just so happens that there is nothing on it that is appealing. How much key metrics can be packed into a .2
    • How Much...this much...

      Those with even minimal intelligence hardly see a mess. They see a growing series with risk taking leadership. A series that will get paid nearly $20 million every year for the rest of the decade for just TV rights. A series that will generate $200 million in series sponsorship by 2013. A series that attracts millions of actual racing fans along with a handful of bitter, obsessed children. A series whose key metrics are UP again this year.


      Might as well save the little fella some time, eh?
    • Danica and DaHooey
      Well, the maestro of meanness has reappeared. DaHooey, you and I have disagreed and agreed on different issues. Once again, you raise good points about the IndyCar Series. Most of it is unfortunately on point.

      Nonetheless, calling all drivers in the series has beens, never beens, or ride buyers is over the top, even for you. Too many fit that description, but there are a handful of winners and a couple of rising young guns that don't deserve the handles you've laid on them.

      Well, at least we can now say that nascar has the two most overrated drivers in all of professional racing. And you know who I mean.
    • I remember Todd Harris' On-Air Orgasm
      I think that'll be my "favorite" Danica memory. That and when Danica's post-Motegi interview canceled coverage of the final laps of the last Champ Car race ever! Yay!
    • @thatgirl
      enjoy your satan sandwich
    • breaking news
      word on the street is the new car is a flop.
    • Scoop!
      Hey Anthony, time to beat Cavin to a IndyCar story. Sounds like some classic IRL-failing going on.
    • Big time testing problems
      So bad the test in Texas was cancelled last week. Maybe only 8 laps at MidOhio, not much better at Barber. Possible Honda engine issues as well. Roll hoop too high, won't fit in transporters.
    • We're all waiting with bated breath
      to find out who them five hot shoes are who'll being going after that 5 million in Vegas. Man o man, I bet the Dipsicle of indycars knows already, he just won't tell. personally, I'm more interested in the names of the hunedreds who got turned down.
    • Sonoma
      I'll admit to attending Sonoma yesterday. Not a bad crowd, actually. But not a great one. The fans there were serious IndyCar enthusiasts. I heard Robin Miller guesstimate the attendance at 25,000. Not so. He's full of, well, what he is. The crowd was maybe 18,000 and I may be stretching it. But I was expecting far fewer.

      The trouble is the atmosphere. It lacks excitement, energy, whatever it is...the IndyCar Series just seems so lackluster, even in person. The fans showed enthusiasm but almost forced at times.

      The racing was ok. Not great, not bad. Just ok. I sense people are not wild about the same cars up front. Pantano got more cheers.

      Overall, I'd say it was a break-even weekend for the IndyCar Series. Nothing gained. Nothign lost. Just a race in the books now and Baltimore next.

      We'll see, but I think the series is, truly, a real minor league entity. It just feels like it in person.
    • 18K?
      Let's face it, IRL can't put butts in the seats because the stigma of the SPLIT hangs over their heads. The NEW Indy Cars are neither improved nor impressive.

      For all the fears about CART's birth in 1979, it did one thing...brought popularity to this sport.

      So, the IRL/IMS is caught between a rock and hard place. Fans want a CART-like series without the IMS or IRL (and the permeated stink that goes with them) involved, and the empty grandstands and low TV ratings speak volumes.

      With Danika gone now it will only get worse...stay true to your guns and DUMP these tracks again that are underperformers. Places like Toronto, Edmonton, New Hampshire, Milwaukee, Iowa, Sonoma etc. Give the fans what they really want...to have the IRL ERADICATED from their tracks. Just like all the others, now 24 and counting like Kansas, Watkins Glen, Gateway, Homestead, Pikes Peak, Nazareth and all the other markets detroyed by the creation of the IRL.

      Randy...you should have apologized. Continued grade F- .
    • No new car?
      Not read just here, but heard at Sonoma amongst fan talk in the stands, someone, somebody, in the IRL said the new car isn't going to happen on time. Maybe the current chassis will "start the 2012 season" and then get replaced by Indy. Idol fan speculation in teh grandstands or hard, cold factoid. Mmmmmmhhhmmmm.....inquiring minds.....hey Disciple? You are a wine and cheese taster of Randall's on the Lear's. Do tell.
    • Also heard...
      ...at Sonoma, a better piece of news...so hoepfully the new car is going to happen, the Chevy powerplant is going to be the engine to beat next year. Apparently a real "engine wars" is looming. Now that is actual good news of the series, if true. My guess is the new car will happen, even if it is goes through a rough start-up process. Apparenlty, it doesn't turn very well, but the power off the corners is amazing. Idol fan talk around Sonoma, true, just like all our speculation on the blogs, but if true, if they can iron out the bugs on that car, FINALLY, there may be some good things ahead.
    • Dallara, The Mark of Quality
      So how can the same company that produced a very racy GP2 & GP3 spec single seater chassis of similar power/performance get a IndyCar wrong? More meddling from the geniuses in the Pagoda?
    • NYTimes Press Today!
      HoooHaaaah! Finally IZod IRLcarz get some press! Apparently Baltimore IRL race promoters getting sued left AND right! This is grate news!

    • It's my duty...
      To report to you that the IRL scored a 0.3 for the 2011 Snoroma IRL sleep-a-thon.

      Here's where KEY METRICS come in handy...

      So, when you are dividing up that 0.3, keep in mind that if, say, 10 more 18 to 34 year old males luckily by accident click upon the race looking for cycling or shooting a chipmunk close range with a 12 gauge...well, that put into the key metric calculator could mean HUGE gains, as much as 25%, for sponsors who are willing to dump HUNEDREDS of millions on the IRLZ carz.

      Yup, the evolution moves forward at breakneck pace....
    • The two day test of the new car
      scheduled for this week didn't happen. I bet there isn't even a new car; it all smoke and mirrors.
    • HaY, who's racing in the IRL SuperPrix?
      Another smoke and mirrors gimmick goes by the wayside.

      Seriously, Randy Bernard needs to be fired immediately...for allowing that travesty of a series to continue to embarass itself on a daily basis.

      Robin Miller's mailbag today contains some very searing candid remarks by the fans of the sport. The IZOD Indy Car Series is revealed as a hapless failure.

      Randy, it's over....resign immediately.
    • Basically
      The series sucks. Is that what we are concluding?
    • CART has 7x more friends
      on Facebook than the hapless IRl
    • or maybe i should say
      TWICE dead CART has 7x more friends on facebook than the hapless series that has needed to be defendered for 16 years
    • Daddy has it right
      The new car makes next year seem exciting and full of potential. Until you realize the thing may not turn a wheel. And even if it does, the series is going to be two-thirds foreigners in up to 11 road course events. Ovals are now an after-thought.

      So Daddy also has it right, which is not bad for a Broad Ripple drop out, career lube rack tech, with a barber's license he never used. The series basically sucks and I love Daddy for saying it.
    • IRL FAILS AGAIN at Milwaukee
      Off the schedule per the great Randy Bernard.

      HaY Indyman, now 2X IRL has killed the Milwaukee marketplace.

      Randy should have apologized. Too late now...
      • Baltimore's opinion of Tiny D's Racing League
        Liz Preston doesn’t want to be anywhere near downtown during the race. Preston, who works at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said she came downtown Thursday morning to make a bank visit.

        Preston shook her head as she walked across the skybridge between Lombard and Pratt streets.

        “This is a mess,” Preston said. “And they want those little cars to run up and down the street. This whole thing is a waste.”
      • Big Weekend!
        Baltimore...Ding Dongs for sure!
      • The lady who checked me in at the hotel
        said that they're having with their "first annual nascar race"
      • Word out of Baltimore
        It doesn't look good. Not good at all. Rumblings the IndyCar event may be significantly altered. Reduced laps. Start under caution. Safety yellows. All of it coming from paddock sources? My buddy Lee Roy is there with his boy and they said they think there will be some cancellations for the lower-tier series for sure.
      • Baltimore's opinion of Tiny D's Racing League
        Downtown #baltimore looks like a ghost town. Is this what @MayorSRB thinks economic development looks like? #fiasco
      • THe IRl
        putting its experiences of dumming down CART/CCWS street races to new uses
      • What do the Baltimore GP and the IRl have in common?
        both were dreamed up by recovering crack addicts
      • Should we be surprised by the
        results of the IRl's first attempt at creating a NA street parade?
      • Meltdown underway in Baltimore
        Insiders are reporting that course constructors forgot to pin the catchfences together...so all the walls and fences have to be moved and re-pinned. And it's 1:40PM, 6 hours AFTER it was supposed to have started.

      • And we all know
        the one thing flying crapwagons need is catchfences
      • Further word out of Baltimore...
        ...the poop in the suit conflicts with driver tweets.
      • I hear tell
        them real irl fans are ready to ditch those boring ovals for that new kind of racing

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