Sportsman's Daily

 

Drivers’ Wives Celebrate Danica Patrick’s First Victory: “If You Think Your Husband is a Back Seat Driver, Try Driving with an IndyCar Driver Riding Shotgun"

Patrick’s Win an Inspiration to “Woman Drivers” Everywhere, Though Feminists Decry her “Fuel Strategy” as a Setback

 

MOTEGI, Japan (Sportsman’s Daily Wire Service) — Since the advent of motorized transportation, women have been ridiculed – unfairly or not – for their (erratic, careless, accident-prone – pick your adjective) driving. Generations of women drivers have had to put up with running commentary, often expressed in the most derisive tones, from men, most of whom view driving as one of the last uncontested bastions of male competence. Danica Patrick’s win in the Japan Indy 300 struck a major blow for women who’ve had to endure the “endless fault finding” of their male counterparts – which, according to the wives of drivers on the IndyCar circuit, can be particularly acute and vicious.

“It’s not often that Scott (Dixon) lets me get behind the wheel, but when I’m driving he just doesn’t shut up for even a second,” said Emma Dixon, wife of IndyCar Series driver Scott Dixon. “It’s endless: ‘You’re driving too slow, you’re driving too fast, stay in your lane, you’re in a school zone, keep the door locked the guy has a tire iron,’ etc., etc. ad nauseam. I wonder how he’d like it if during a race I was in his ear telling him when to pit, or not to tailgate or criticizing him for failing to signal.”

Emma freely admitted to a “spotty” driving record, having racked up over 10 moving violations in just the past five years. She’s also recorded "so many fender-benders I've lost count,” totaled the family’s SUV earlier this year, and on at least three occasions required roadside assistance when she let the gas gauge go well past empty.

“Shit happens. But most of the time I’m rushing from the supermarket or nail salon, picking up the kids for soccer or football practice, and basically keeping the household afloat while Scott’s supposedly at the track or in some big business meeting. When I wrap a car around a poll or hit a neighbor’s mailbox backing out or run over a dog that shouldn’t be in the middle of the street to begin with, it’s not like I did it on purpose – but Scott just goes crazy, calling me every name in the book. Ok, I get it, talking on my cell or applying makeup at 40 mph can dramatically increase the odds of a three car collision or traffic fatality…but I guarantee you this: if I were a man and applied foundation and eyeliner while driving, no one would say a single word.”

Emma admitted to being “thrilled” when Danica Patrick notched her first win in the Japan Indy 300, and like the other “put upon” drivers’ wives we spoke with, felt “vindicated and relieved – and ecstatic that the men had to deal with the fact they were beaten by a girl.” Patrick’s victory struck a blow for women drivers everywhere, across America and around the industrialized world, as women entrusted with motorized transport is a worrisome prospect that transcends cultures. Feminists, however, have decried Patrick’s victory for reinforcing what they view as negative stereotypes.

“It’s not her victory per se, but her way of winning that sets us back, particularly as women have long labored, unfairly in our view, as second-class drivers,” said Kim Gandy, President of the National Organization for Women. “To win based on a ‘fuel strategy’ (Patrick won by stretching a 22-gallon tank of ethanol in the final laps) plays to a classic stereotype. Winning based on superior driving skills is one thing. But winning because you know how to stretch a budget? While we applaud Mr. Patrick’s achievement, we hope she finds a less stereotypical path to victory in the future.”
Despite Gandy’s protests, American women continue to celebrate Danica Patrick’s landmark victory. Many have demonstrated their solidarity by emulating Patrick’s risky fuel strategy, boldly driving well past an empty fuel tank. Unfortunately it’s caused lengthy tie-ups on some of the nation’s most heavily trafficked highways, as thousands of stalled vehicles line the roads.

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