Sunday, June 8, 2008

On Watching Danica Patrick Not Win The Bombardier Learjet 550K Yesterday

Danica Patrick did not win the Bombardier Learjet 550K yesterday.

Lord knows we wanted her to.
I took The Future Aggie to her first race at Texas Motor Speedway yesterday. She loved it as much as I thought she would, and is already planning to come home from Aggieland for the NASCAR races in October/November. I've always wanted this girl to know that she can do whatever she wants to do.
We tailgated with the good people from Roadway for a while and then went through the minefield of racing concession stands, where I bought her enough crap to fill up the latrines at Fort Pemberton.

This was an Indy style race. For the uninitiated, the best way to distinguish between the mindset of NASCAR and IndyCar racing is via Ferrell's "Talladega Nights". NASCAR grew out of moonshiners souping up their cars to outrun police pursuit. Ferrell's character "Ricky Bobby" comes out of that tradition. The cars wouldn't necessarily turn heads on the interstate if you took the decals off, and the drivers are mostly American.

IndyCar racing features "open wheel" vehicles. The tires are outside the body of the car, and these tires wouldn't fit well on your Volvo. One of these things going down the interstate would get your attention. The drivers come from all over the world. Sacha Baron Cohen's character in Talladega Nights, Jean Girard, the despicable Gay-French-AntiAmerican, is a great sendup of Indy drivers.
We got to the track in time to see Robbie Knievel jump 21 Hummers. There was something involved with Knievel contracting to jump 20 Humvees, and then increasing it to 25, but there was a strong headwind so he lowered it to 20. And the landing ramp extended over the last 3. Or something like that.
The discussions in the stands about the ever-changing number of Hummers reminded me too much of Hillary Clinton electoral math. Here's a YouTube of the jump:

Like most male forty-somethings, I was a huge fan of Knievel's father when I was a kid. It was nice to see a Knievel land in one piece.

We wanted to see Danica Patrick win it. I wanted to watch my daughter when Danica Patrick won it.
Loyalty to sports teams and athletes is a strange thing. As Jerry Seinfeld put it, because of the players being traded, drafted, bought and sold, you can no longer be loyal to a team. You're only "a fan of their laundry". That's why I was surprised at my first NASCAR race when I heard some drivers being cheered and others booed. What offense did the unpopular ones commit? Not saluting the flag? Not wearing a flag lapel pin? Forgetting the words to "Dixie"?

The way The Whited Sepulchre Duo saw it, Danica Patrick winning the Bombardier Learjet 550K would've been a bigger achievement for women than The Hildebeest winning the Democratic Party's nomination for President.

Those are strong words, aren't they? Let me explain....

Hillary was the wife of a governor and then the wife of a President. She was given a relatively "safe" senate seat to run for, in one of the most reliably Democratic states, a state in which she had never really lived.

She's achieved a lot, but only because of her other half. If her name had been Hortense Finklebaum instead of Mrs. Bill Clinton, you would've never heard of her. If she'd won the nomination, it would've been historic, but also would've required a footnote....(spouse of former president).

Contrast that with the historic potential of Danica Patrick. Like every other driver, Patrick has a massive support team and pit crew. But no one drives that car around the track but her. Name recognition counts for nothing. The fact that she's a woman doesn't get her any sympathy laps, and The League Of Women Voters doesn't protest after her losses. Her husband is relatively unknown.

Unfortunately, Danica started in 5th and finished 11th. Scott Dixon won it.
Bummer. One day, it'll happen.

Wait a minute, I hear some of you saying. Danica Patrick has already made history by winning the IndyJapan 500. Why are you acting as if no woman has ever won an Indy race?

Well, maybe I've got a NASCAR Ricky Bobby mentality.

That stuff that happens over in them foreign places like Japan? It don't count.

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