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Do Women Belong in Racing?

Patrick has been given the title of “most successful female in American open-wheel racing.” I am currently rolling my eyes—not because I think Patrick is not successful, but because this title belongs to someone who has won one race: the 2008 Japan Indy 300.  One race.  I think she, and other female drivers, can do better than one win in order to have the title of “most successful female.”  Male drivers who win one race are not given titles -- they don’t receive a ribbon for participation. Of course Patrick can win a race. She has two hands, two feet, and the will to do so—just like her male competitors.  Congratulations on your race, Danica Patrick.  Now go out, go give ‘em hell, and do it again!

In addition to “most successful woman in American open-wheel,” Patrick also holds the record for “most consecutive finishes in IndyCar.” Again, I don’t mean to diminish this accomplishment, because she is currently beating the boys, but let’s break this down. She holds this title because out of the 115 races she started, she finished 50 of them in a row. This statistic means that she started in a race and managed to budget her tires, not crash, not get disqualified, and survive the g-forces in order to cross the finish line after a certain amount of laps, 50 times in a row. Honestly, my gut reaction is so say, “So what?” Yes, it takes both mental and physical strength, as well as sheer talent, to operate a racecar; but the fact that Patrick finished 50 races in a row, and won one, doesn’t mean she’s the epitome of success. If her statistics for “race wins” were compared with a male driver with similar figures, the male driver would be considered mediocre. One of the greatest F1 drivers of all time, Michael Schumacher, had 307 starts in his career--with 221 finishes in the points, 24 consecutive finishes in the points, and 68 poles. Oh, he also had 91 wins.