As the impartial mediator here, let me say this:
Settle down. Everyone.
The pro-Danica people … the anti-Danica crowd … Marty Reid … sexists … feminists … historians … mud slingers … gear heads … hippies … Jack Arute. Everyone.
Let’s not get carried away.
It was only a race. Albeit a race won by a smoking-hot swimsuit model who seems to be — in terms of sheer polarizing capacity — the racing equivalent of Darwinism. (Smoking hot Darwinism, that is.) But whatever. The point is, a race is a race. And this was only slightly different than had Vitor Meira won.
And by “slightly different,” I obviously mean “infinitely, profoundly different.” But not for the reasons these agenda-driven partisans would have you believe.
Because face it: when it comes to Danica Patrick, people have an opinion. And that opinion isn’t ambiguous. It’s either good or bad. For or against. Cut and dried. And after her win Saturday night, it seems that the fringe lunatics from both sides of the aisle have come out in force. And they’re all trying to out-hyperbolize the opposition.
I’m talking to you, the overly dramatic Danica enthusiast who compares this with Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier. Holy Jesus. I mean, this isn’t just your average garden-variety “hyperbole.” This is HGH-fueled mega-hyperbole. This is the kind of hyperbole that hits 128 home runs a year and eats Nissan Altima’s. In fact, it cracks my “Top 5 Most Insanely Hyperbolific Things I’ve Ever Heard” list. Here are the other four:
-Mary Kate Olsen’s memoirs are a triumph to literature, not unlike Anne Frank’s.
-The “Diaper Genie” is the most beneficial scientific advancement since penicillin.
-Kelly Clarkson is the single most influential American since Ulysses S. Grant.
-”The Beastmaster” is our generation’s “Citizen Kane.”
Let’s throttle back the historical superlatives, shall we? She ran a fine race. And she won. She did not, however, alter the societal landscape of this country.
But I’m also talking to you, the wildly sexist freak who openly detests women venturing outside of the kitchen. (Think Dabney Coleman in “9 to 5.” Or Ike Turner.) What the f–k is your problem? You can dislike Danica all you want. That’s fine. But don’t let that poison your common sense. Don’t let it blind you. Her win wasn’t unimportant. It wasn’t insignificant. And your venomous, drunken tirades don’t change that.
Take this moonshine-swilling burglar from the ESPN comments section:
“1-49…congrats on one victory. I am so sure her critics are finally silenced. I love how people make such a big deal about a woman trying to make it in a male-dominated sport, only to find out they can’t hack it.”
Danica “can’t hack it?” Hey, Grandpappy: she WON. What more do you want from her? What constitutes “hacking it” in your book? Ramming competitors out of the way like on “Bump-n-Jump?” A 38-lap margin of victory? Doing celebratory donuts on Roger Penske’s face? You tell me.
The fact of the matter is this: like 99.9999948% of polarizing debates, the answer here lies in the middle. Danica’s win certainly wasn’t on par with the formation of the Continental Congress. But it wasn’t some forgettable, fortuitous fluke either. It was something in between.
(And before I get to the real point here, let’s get this out of the way right now. I’m not an IndyCar shill. I’m free to write whatever I want. In fact, if I want to say that Brian Barnhart enjoys molesting stray mules … I will. I’m not here to pander to the League. And I just wanted to add some credibility to what I’m about to say.)
No matter how you categorize Danica’s win — no matter how you feel about Danica in general — you’d certainly agree that this is large for the sport. Crazy large.
Because frankly, it wouldn’t have mattered if Tony Kanaan won on Saturday by bunny-hopping three cars at the finish line. That’s not headlining CNN.com. Nor MSNBC.com. It’s not batting leadoff on SportsCenter on arguably the most action-packed day in NBA Playoff history.
But Danica’s win did. It did all that. And really, this is just the first wave of the media tsunami heading IndyCar’s way. Not because she’s some lofty Rosa Parks-like trailblazer … but not because she’s some dastardly Paris Hilton-like media creation either.
It’s because everyone has an opinion of her. It’s because she looks like “Juno” and cusses like a grizzled old dock-worker. It’s because she’s interesting. And talented. And polarizing. It’s because she’s one of the few women who’s on a first-name basis with most every household in America .
And it’s because the others — Giselle, Madonna, Prince, Condi and Hillary — never won at Twin Rings Motegi.