|Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs|
Last week my husband and I went away to the Caribbean to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.
First it should be noted that it was very forward thinking of me to get married in NASCAR’s off-season so I wouldn’t have to miss work for such trivial things as a 20th wedding anniversary. Of course, when I got married I was a 20-year-old college senior on a path to become a high school history teacher, not a NASCAR columnist and radio host. Still, I’m taking credit where credit is due.
Upon arriving at the resort where my husband and I stayed for our week long sojourn, we found ourselves at the only jewelry store on the property. This, too, is not a surprise as I am a jewelry connoisseur or, as my husband might describe it, a fanatic.
We browsed, I tried things on, and I bought nothing. It’s rarely a good idea to buy either at the first place you shop or at the only jewelry store at the hotel. But I digress…
Before I left the store I saw a magazine – a beautiful glossy one with over-sized pages, gorgeous color photos, and tons of jewelry advertisements and articles that the store publishes. I was told to take a copy with their compliments.
It wasn’t until I got home that I realized the cover photo was of a very familiar person to me – Danica Patrick.
My husband, of course, noticed Patrick on the cover in the store, but I was too star-struck by the jewels to notice there.
Once settled in our room, and when time presented, I actually perused the magazine.
Naturally, I dove into the Patrick article first.
I was torn between excitement that Patrick was a cover model and feature of this jewelry magazine and confused by the reasons.
She’s topical, yes, but still newsworthy?
I checked the publication date of the magazine issue – Spring 2012. It was a year old and already seemed so outdated.
The publicist who sent her bio made it sound like Patrick had accumulated some great accomplishments – the highest finishing female in any of NASCAR’s top tiers with a fourth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 5, 2011. In addition the article highlighted “Patrick’s greatest accomplishment” as being the only female to win an IndyCar Series race – the Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi.
Patrick, we now know, earned 10th in the Nationwide Series in 2012, the highest finish for a woman in one of NASCAR’s top series. That is an accomplishment of note.
Sadly, those of us fans who watched weekly, tried to root for, and watched with dismay as Patrick floundered on the tracks around NASCAR’s Nationwide circuit were hugely unimpressed with what appeared to be a very slow learning curve.
Many wondered if Patrick truly did possess racing talent or was nothing more than a marketer's dream whose time was finite.
The article, however, sucked me back in to DanicaMania. Last year’s buzz is indeed a blueprint for this year’s. And, with a few months of off-season behind me, I’m finding myself once again longing for Patrick to make huge strides in NASCAR, this time in her first full-time season in Cup.
I try to steel myself for the reality that the “seat time” accumulated last year will do little to strengthen her prowess on the track.
Yet, I continue to have a Pollyanna attitude about Patrick’s career in NASCAR and racing. I want her to do well – I will her to do well – because she could be the greatest advocate for women in racing.
I am a loud proponent of women doing what they do well – racing in this instance – and doing so without giving up their femininity or marketability.
Patrick certainly continues to keep her marketability juggernaut running, but for me time is running out. I want to see tangible evidence that she is worth the ride she’s been given based on her talent on the track, not off.
Clearly the almighty advertising dollar is king in NASCAR. I know and embrace this, but the race fan in me has her fingers crossed that Patrick will have a breakout season and silence her critics for good. It is far past time for a woman to succeed mightily in NASCAR. Patrick has that opportunity and it is time for her to stake her claim.
Although I seem to vacillate about my feelings toward Patrick, I can tell you I am glad she was a part of my jewelry magazine on vacation and in the racing world I write about. I had been languishing in the off-season and seeing Patrick in the article reawakened my writing.
Danica Patrick is still one of the reasons why I love NASCAR.
Chief 187™ is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187™Chatter. Her column “Why I Love NASCAR” and other articles are featured on Skirts and Scuffs. She can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s. To find out more please visit http://Chief187.com.