Its still almost two months before the season starts for one of my favorite sports – Indy Car racing. Like a lot of sports these days Indy Car faces a major challenge because of the economy. Despite the likely tough times ahead, its biggest star – Danica Patrick – seems to be shining brighter than ever.

Thanks to a nearly naked appearance in a Super Bowl commercial for her sponsor Go Daddy, and another barely dressed spread in Sports Illustrated’s just issued top-selling swimsuit edition, Danica Patrick’s 15 minutes of fame have now extended to four years. Clearly the fascination is not over with a cute little woman who will shamelessly flaunt her assets and then duke it out with the guys at 230 miles per hour. I’m not hating, and neither is Indy Car.

Ever since almost winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2005, Danica has had people talking about her and looking at her. And even though she has only won one race since then, she’s led in a number of others and is a threat to win week in and week out.

I’m an Indy Car purist who still remembers the good old days when Mario Andretti and AJ Foyt were the dominant drivers. Collectively those two men won nearly 120 Indy Car races – more than anyone in history. They were big-time winners who between them also won a lot of other renowned races, including the Daytona 500, the 24 hours of Le Mans, the Grand Prix of Monoco and I could go on and on.

But now I find myself appreciating Danica Patrick for reasons other than winning. I like that she isn’t trying to fool anyone. She obviously knows that until she wins more races her biggest assets remain her tight body and cute face. And she is marketing those assets all the way to the bank. That’s honesty. That’s America. And what’s wrong with that?

As a result, Danica is one of the few sports stars who can be identified by just one name, just like her predecessors, AJ and Mario. And even though she’s driven just a single victory lap, Danica is a legitimate challenger in the only major sport in America where women compete as equals against men. And that’s quite an accomplishment. Even if she has to take off most of her clothes to make the point.

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  1. Rick Hancock says:

    As a kid I loved Indy Car racing, I was a fan of the same drivers you mentioned. But something happened over the years that chased me away from Indy and NASCAR. I guess the sport has always played to its Southern roots, but I think it has done so to the detriment of growing the sport to a more diverse audience.