Danica Patrick Needs to Man Up & Save Car Racing for Women

danica patrickI can't imagine the impact IndyCar racer Dan Wheldon's tragic death has had on his family and friends, let alone his colleagues. Particularly those fellow racers who were on the track on the day of the 15-car pileup that killed Wheldon: How does one go back to a sport that violently and suddenly steals the life of a beloved and respected peer?

So if the rumors that Danica Patrick is giving up racing in the aftermath of Wheldon's death turn out to be true, I would understand. And I wouldn't blame her.

But I still hope they're not true, because I worry about what Patrick's departure from the track will mean for future female race car drivers.

Actually, I worry about what Patrick quitting will mean for female athletes in general.

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It's just that women have had to fight such an uphill battle establishing themselves in sports, particularly such male-dominated sports (ha! as if they weren't all male-dominated!) as car racing. At 29, Patrick is already an icon -- the first woman to win in the IndyCar series ever! That's the kind of accomplishment you can't just turn your back on.

Again, I would understand if Patrick quit. Traumatic loss has a way of making people react in a drastic fashion. But certainly Danica has been aware of the fatal risks associated with her sport of choice from the first time she ever got behind the wheel. Which makes me think that if she is, in fact, going to leave racing, it's grief that's motivating her -- not fear.

Of course Patrick needs time to mourn, and I think she should take as much time off as she needs. But don't quit, Danica!

Do you think Danica Patrick is really going to quit racing?

 

Image via Watermarked Photography/Flickr

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