The pit and the petulant

Posted by Iannucci | 5/28/2008 | 8 comments »
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Judging from all of the links folks have forwarded to the Inbox it seems a lot of you are still rather upset at the latest display of off-the-road rage by Danica Patrick. I’m only bringing this up because the footage is being readied for numerous slo-mo replays throughout the race at THE Milwaukee Mile this weekend. Heck, Eddie Gossage is probably making WWE-style banners for his race at Texas the week after that.

As mentioned earlier, your humble host has no problem with a driver having a tantrum here and there. Some drivers run a little hotter than others (we’re talking temperament here, not swimsuits) and Mrs Hospenthal is one of them. Her march towards Ryan Briscoe’s pit was entertaining stuff, and had it been another driver it might not have been such a big to-do.

I mean that with all sincerity because most of the articles I’ve seen juxtapose Danicker’s emotional display with that of Sarah Fisher’s, which seems like a non-sequitur to me since Fisher’s was a different emotion for a different circumstance. I’ve seen plenty of men get angry and a few others cry so it’s apples and oranges. Besides, for her efforts this month Fisher is a story deserving coverage in articles that don’t mention include That Girl.

But we’re not talking about Fisher; we’re talking about Patrick and her quick about face from these words earlier this month.

"I realize, over time now, how unproductive being angry all the time is and how it doesn't really do any good for my driving. I think that being positive does."

"But I'm trying to grow up. I'm trying to be better all-around for all kinds of reasons: for myself, for the people around me and for the people I don't know who are around me."

Uh, or not. Really, if you think her competitors have it bad try to imagine what it’s like for poor Mr Paul. “Honey, did you remember to dry clean my firesuit?...What?...You didn’t @#$%ing clean my @!##$#$%@ing suit? What kind of a @!##ing $%!@#$% are you!” (I’m hypothesizing here. They may be really schmoopie all the time for all I know.)

Anyhow, if Patrick wants to stomp around and behave in an entertaining but childish fashion than to me that seems an issue between her and her sponsors. We can watch and laugh and scream at her, and honestly in this age of emotionally guarded drivers I’ll take the few emotional outbursts when I can get them. Say what you want but Jack Arute never has to ask her to “describe her feeling” because they’re pretty obvious. I’m not condoning her losing her cool, but so long as she’s not doing something stupid like challenging someone to throw down I’m not going to condemn her either.

One of the consequences of all of this televised rage is, as pressdog points out, the further growth in an already significant anti-Danica base. Oh sure, lots of folks still love her, but a goodly portion of hatred is proving her popularity has really hit the big time. Successful drivers like Earnhart, Gordon, and Schumacher all had a hater crowd, and in IndyCars there are many Penske haters and Andretti haters. Haters all around. A budding entrepreneur might even put together something with a red circle and clash and a number “7” and sell a few t-shirts at upcoming events. Just sayin’.

Even if you wouldn’t buy the shirts a lot of you are still embarrassed at Danicker’s behavior. As I said, this wouldn’t be such a big deal if it were, say, Marco marching down to Helio’s box at the end of the race. It’s because it’s an over-exposed woman named “Danica” that we have all of this fuss. No, to me the only cause for concern is that despite all of these outbursts she still hasn’t learned to conduct her confrontations within the unwritten rules of disagreements, which are:

1. Get off the track. Or in this case, get back over the wall. Don’t go stalking someone anywhere cars are still running. As Danicker herself may have noticed, walking around in a pit box other than your own can lead to unintended medical expenses. Confront your adversary in the garage or in a run-off area where you can have a nice thorough conversation without the discourteous threat of disrupting the race for the remaining entrants.

2. Take off your freaking helmet. Say what you want about Paul Tracy (another solid hater base) but the guy at least gets into scuffles with his hat off. Maybe it's me but walking around while wearing the helmet makes a driver look like a bobblehead. Come to think of it, maybe that’s what we need as a giveaway: a Danicker bobblehead featuring her helmeted dome with fists clenched and a button that says things like “Learn to (bleep)-ing drive, Ryan Briscoe”, “Stay in your (bleep)-ing lane, Dan Wheldon” and “Use your (bleep)-ing head, Jaques Lazier”. That I would buy.

3. Don’t look for a fistfight with someone of the opposite sex. If it must be go time, dude v dude is acceptable, as is a chick fight. But little miss 100-lbs of Fury has to know that if she goes down there to discuss anything with the Briscoe Inferno she’s going to do so without too much unwanted physical contact. Stranger danger, no touching allowed. Instead, try some finger-pointing, crazy hand gesturing, or if you’re really savvy you can use hand clapping or maybe even Vitor Meira’s patented sarcastic backslap toward the instigator. I think we all appreciate a nice animated discussion during long yellow flag delays.

Them’s the rules of foul play. Now the scene changes to Milwaukee, site of last year’s infamous Dan v Danica incident. You couldn’t plan this any better, could you? Ladies and gentlemen, start your tempers.


  1. Anonymous // May 28, 2008 12:36 PM  

    Instead, try some finger-pointing, crazy hand gesturing, or if you’re really savvy you can use hand clapping or maybe even Vitor Meira’s patented sarcastic backslap toward the instigator.


    Would a dope-slap ("Wassa' matter witchu?!?!") upside the back of the helmet from The Princess be acceptable?

    Just askin' :^)

  2. Anonymous // May 28, 2008 3:37 PM  

    Nope, I don't think so anyway. Actual touching is verboten in a male-female mouth battle. The male will always be the baddie. Or maybe that's what she wants. Who knows what lurks inside the bobblehead?

  3. yourcuzinvinny // May 28, 2008 5:12 PM  

    I thought that Danica looked very cute wearing her car racing Halloween costume complete with the big helmet. It was so funny as she was walking down pit lane to the Penske's pit to pick a fight with Ryan, I was yelling at the TV "hold that women back before she gives Roger a heart attack trying to protect Ryan".

    I am getting tired of Danica's angry pouty look. Sarah can give her lessons how to act like a role model.

  4. pressdog // May 28, 2008 7:36 PM  

    Only issue I had with the whole thing was to your point -- not in the pit lane. If the league is going to punish Danica at all (insert incredulous laughter here), it should be for walking down the pit lane while the race is going on. Um, no. She got pissed, stomped toward Briscoe a little bit, no biggy. That's racin.' Nobody should be freaked if someone stomps toward Danica in the future either. And way to get on the Profit from the Hater train! You're a true American capitalists.

  5. John in Speedway // May 28, 2008 8:38 PM  

    Drama = publicity = popularity = TV ratings = sponsorship = more money for the series and for the drivers = more drivers coming to the series and none leaving for nascab = the heyday

  6. mikebdot // May 29, 2008 10:33 AM  

    I suppose it goes without saying that that accident was completely Briscoe's fault and therefore Danica actually had a right to be pissed off this time? I say "goes without saying" since, you know, you didn't say it.

    It's kind of hard for anger to affect her driving when she was done for the day due to a stupid stupid move on pit road.

    As for being on pit road and walking, everyone was out of the pits by that point, at least the people that mattered.

  7. Anonymous // May 30, 2008 5:52 AM  

    Is the world ready for my transformation to Pro-Danica?

  8. Anonymous // May 30, 2008 10:45 AM  


    Given the choice between an angry Danica ("Briscoe, I'm going to twist your f#%^ing head around so you can WATCH ME KICK YOUR F@&!ING @SS!") and a "schmoopie" Danica ("I woves my Paulsie-Walsie, he's my ooshie-squoooshy-ooshiums!!!!"), I'll take the angry Danica, thank you very much.

    However, tip for Danica!: When you win your next race, give Paul better than a "Hihoneyisn'tit greatIwon!ButnowI'vegotaninterviewokbyeloveya" peck on the cheek.

    Just sayin'