Thursday, April 25, 2013

"I feel the need, the need for speed...."

“I didn't know I had it in me. There's more to all of us than we realize. Life is so much bigger, grander, higher, and wider than we allow ourselves to think. We're capable of so much more than we allow ourselves to believe.”
― Queen Latifah, Put on Your Crown: Life-Changing Moments on the Path to Queendom

      Stephen Colbert recently interviewed motor racing super woman and current NASCAR driver, 
Danica Patrick on the Colbert Report. Those unfamiliar with racing are probably unaware that before Danica began competing in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series she started her career in open-wheel racing. In addition to being a  highly competitive driver, model and advertising spokesperson, she is the most successful woman in the history of American open-wheel racing and the only woman to win a race. She received the "Colbert Bump" honor which automatically increases a guests rise in popularity. (But it could be the attention grabbing bikini clad Go Daddy! ads as well.)

     The world of auto racing unlike most previously male- dominated sports,  is encouraging  female participation. Despite misconceptions or stereotypes about NASCAR and it's following, auto racing continues progress, making tremendous strides for female athletes who compete with men as equals.

Quick Quiz. Name another professional sport that men and women compete equally?  This is just one of the reasons being a racing fan makes me proud, although driver of the Roush Fenway " 99" car, charismatic Carl Edwards is my favorite driver. He will be competing in Richmond, VA this weekend.(Sorry, Bri. Kasey "Sugar" Kahne will have to settle for second.)Besides, Danica, here are a few other female drivers you may know or recognize:

    * Jennifer Jo Cobb is a NASCAR driver running in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series. She has also run a limited schedule in ARCA or the Automobile Racing Club of America and has competed in Nationwide Series events.

    * Amber Cope and her twin sister Angela compete in Late Models and  ARCA races  and run a limited series of races in NASCAR. Amber has competed in the  Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide ranks.
      *Simona De Silvestro made her IZOD IndyCar Series debut in 2010, finishing 19th in her first season. A native of Switzerland, she placed third in the Atlantic Championship in 2009, earning four wins and nine podium finishes in 12 starts. In addition, she led a series-best 172 laps. De Silvestro won the rookie honor at the 2010 Indianapolis 500.

      Born into a legendary racing family, Chrissy Wallace's  father Mike and her uncles Rusty and Kenny all are accomplished NASCAR drivers. She competed in both NASCAR and ARCA in 2010, plus the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series. She became the first woman to race against her father in NASCAR when both competed in the Nationwide series race at Talladega. Wallace earned a place in history in 2011, becoming the first female to win an ASA Late Model track championship, which she did at Lebanon I-44 Speedway, and also the first female regional champion when she took the ASA West Region title.
There really is more to look forward to in the world of racing for women. If you have a daughter, niece or know of any young girls who are interested in kicking tires and lighting fires, encourage them to compete and continue to pave the way.

“I’d like to say I’m ready to kick ass and show the guys how it’s done. But I’m not here to prove anything about being a woman. I’m here to drive a race car and try to win a race.”- Lyn St. James (former Indy driver)

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