You don’t have to be an Indy 500 fan to appreciate the significance of Danica Patrick’s performance and accomplishments in the last week. The Indy 500 was run yesterday but Danica began setting history when she became the first woman driver to qualify for the pole (#1 starting spot) by driving the fastest time of all the participants in the prelims. During the race, she was in front five laps, held the lead two times and going into the final lap she was holding third. Although she ended up eighth, Danica was the first woman to break into the top ten. Despite her result (disappointing to her), Danica managed to continue to make history. Janet Guthrie had held the record since 1980 when she finished 11th. Danica broke a record that had been held for 33 years. Nothing short of amazing!
But, what is most amazing is the mental fortitude in her performance. Her strength lies not just in her technical abilities but more importantly in her mental ones. This is where women can shine in “impossible” sports for them. Her mental strength especially helps with all the prejudice and doubt that’s been thrown at her and constant questioning about her ability to race stock cars in Nascar. She’s a gutsy woman, one not to shy away from controversy. So, she’s done sexy ads. This is who she happens to be—a sexy woman. The men will sexualize her no matter what; although quotes from winner Jimmy Johnson and second place Dale Earhardt Jr. indicate their respect for her as a competitor. Jimmy stated: “It was a car on the track. I didn’t think of it as Danica. It was just another car that was fast.” Dale Earnhardt commented: “She’s a racer. She’s going to make a lot of history all year long.”
Another remarkable part of Danica’s racing is the support of her family. They, mother Bev, father T.J., and sister, Brooke, were all their to lend support to Danica in her record breaking race. This just reminds of the importance of supportive relationships.
Danica shows all girls and women that mental strength is vital to us in our lives for success, no matter the sport or performance we are looking to achieve.