Even if you are not a NASCAR fan you have probably still heard of Danica Patrick. As a spokesperson for GoDaddy.com, her face, and more, have been seen in commercials during some of the most viewed sporting events in the world, including the NFL’s Super Bowl. You have probably also heard of her recent divorce, and current relationship with fellow NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. How she handles that relationship could not only affect her career, but also those of the women looking to follow in her footsteps.
Women are more emotional than men. Whether that is true or a generalization is open to debate. What is not in the world of sports is success is imitated, while failure will get an idea, or even a person, shelved for a long time, maybe forever. NASCAR is no different. At one time it was thought you needed a driver with lots of experience to get the job done. Then young drivers became the popular choice of car owners. Lately, the emphasis has been on drivers with experience on dirt. Now the sport has Danica.
Fair or not, Danica will be the measuring point many female drivers will be judged by in the near future of NASCAR, and perhaps other forms of racing. Should she live up to the stereotype of being too emotional she could actually do as much damage to her career as those of other female drivers. What does that mean for Danica?
It means she needs to be all business on the track. Any problems she may have with Ricky off the track cannot carry over to the speedway. A “love tap” on the track, caused by a dispute away from it, could further the over emotional stereotype. Conversely, if she shows a little favoritism toward Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in any way she could also be judged as weak in some way.
Right or wrong, how Danica handles herself at the track could go a long way towards how other female drivers are prejudged in their attempts to make it to the highest levels of motorsports. Car owners and sponsors alike, could be wary of getting involved with other female drivers if Danica is unable to separate her emotions from the track.
There are two sides to everything, and Danica’s situation is no different. Her presence in both Indy Car racing and NASCAR have almost certainly caused car owners and sponsors to open their eyes to many of the very talented female racers currently competing at the lower levels of motor sports. However, should she fail for emotional levels, more than based on her talent, she could actually negatively affect how female drivers are looked at in the future.