Mad about Milka

Posted by Iannucci | 2/04/2009 | 11 comments »
Bookmark and Share

2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice has magically appeared on the Rubicon/Pacific MotorMerge site, Champ Car race winner Robert Doornbos appears thisclose to signing with N/H/L, and what everyone wants to scream bloody murder talk about is a Robin Miller story about Milka Duno. It’s certainly news IF she gets inked to a deal with a top team, which hasn’t happened yet, but it seems that’s no reason to suppress discussions of this otherwise astounding possibility.

Milka Duno, a.k.a “Milkalicious” or “Milk and Donuts” or perhaps your favorite unprintable obscenity. Driver, Actress, Author and Champion Venezuelan Towel Thrower. Clearly there is no other driver like her in the series, and by that I mean if she gets this ride she’ll easily have the worst record of any returning driver.

The outrage expressed is not unexpected, but let’s get one thing clear: Despite the fact Wilson, Hunter-Reay, Servia, et al are all better drivers, Milka with her fistful of Hugo Bucks isn’t taking a job from any of them. It’s not like N/H/L said “well, we’ve got some extra millions sitting around, who’s the best driver?” and then picked up the phone and whispered sweet nothings in the ear of Milkalicious.

To the contrary - she’s got money and she’s shopping for value just like any other ride buyer. If that means that she can get a third car for a team like N/H/L that has shown they can win races in the IndyCar series, well, you can’t fault a girl for buying quality. And that idea, the one that Duno will actually have a team that can give her a competitive car, makes me wonder about many things, none of which is whether or not Paul Newman is spinning in his grave.

Clearly Duno has an abysmal record, but contrary to popular opinion on her entry in the IRL she hasn’t killed anyone in her prior two years in the series. Granted, Milka still struggles to set the car up, still lifts when people approach her on the track, and still looks to have even less skill on road/street courses than ovals. But she has improved ever so slightly, and with a guy like Larry Curry helping her last year she was nearly on the lead lap. (Don’t laugh, being on the lead lap is like the Holy Grail for a backmarker.)

So as lesser a driver as she is I can’t help but wonder if this astounding marriage of Duno and N/H/L isn't capable of producing some shocking results. Not to presume that she would win a race - that ain’t happening - but what if she somehow finishes on a podium? Or even a Top 5? Or maybe even a few Top 10s? Is that entirely implausible given that she was knocking on a Top 15 with Dreyer & Reinbold? Remember, all indications are there will be less cars and more ride buyers this year.

And what happens if she finishes a few races ahead of Danica? As ridiculous as it is to compare drivers for some gender-related reason you just know that it’s going to happen. Sarah Fisher will be up the discussion as well, but what if Milka finishes a race or two or three or more ahead of both of them? Do the Fanicas or FishHeads go berzerker by lighting up the comments section, ransack the N/H/L garage, and swearing off McDonald's forever? I'm just wondering out loud here.

Ask anyone who’s ever met Duno and they’ll tell you she’s as fan-friendly as they come, and now despite her on-track struggles she appears on the cusp of having a car and a team completely capable of putting her in the Top 10 on any track. Her only obstacle would be her driving ability, so the question isn’t just if she’s ready to improve to being a Top 10 driver, it’s also if we’re ready accept her on the off chance she does.

11 comments

  1. Tony DiZinno // February 04, 2009 11:34 AM  

    "But she hasn't killed anyone yet." Is that the standard by which IndyCar Series drivers are measured? By that logic Ryan Briscoe could be the most dangerous driver out there because of his launch-pad antics at Chicago in '05. But he's improved immeasurably since then.

    The results are negligable. Even if she does score the odd top-ten or freakish top-five result, that doesn't speak to talent, it speaks to being able to keep her foot to the floor on an oval. It won't happen on a road/street course. The ONLY reason she could be in the team is to pay for the other two, Rahal and Doornbos, to race.

    I agree, she is incredibly fan-friendly and a lot nicer to talk to for media members than Danica. But again, being an angel off track and an impediment on it are two completely different things.

  2. pressdog // February 04, 2009 11:36 AM  

    Look at this way -- this (if it happens) will be the best test of how much or how little the driver matters on big ovals. If Milka can top-5 it, that pretty much lets you know it's 90% about the car, not the driver. And, as a Fish Head, I won't be upset if she finishes in front of Sarah, as long as it's fair and square. Plus Milka stood up to the Princess ("Go away. We don't want your show."), so she gets major slack from this Fish Head.

  3. Justin // February 04, 2009 11:38 AM  

    If this happens Milka's name will have to be mentioned with some of the all time great ride buyers. Such as Charles Nearburg, Dennis Vittolo, and the all-time legend Hiro Matsushita. Imagine how great Hiro would have been with the kind of support N/H/L will be able to provide Milka.

  4. SandWedge // February 04, 2009 12:06 PM  

    I think people simply need to remember that racing is not just their entertainment, its people's jobs. Milka being added, and supporting Doornbos and Rahal with her, keeps and adds jobs for a lot of good people that would otherwise be unemployed.

    Also I submit that Milka would have already finished on the lead lap late if not for at the 500 being chopped by Lazier to knock her out, and at Chicago the team chose to lead a few laps and pit later than stay on the lead strategy and finish on the lead lap. She's not great or anything but she's far from the drop like a rock at a start Marty Roth.

  5. Tabernerus // February 04, 2009 12:13 PM  

    This is basically NHLR running a two-car operation, and then letting their sponsor logos run around the track separate from the cars.

    Maybe she gets better, and maybe she doesn't, but something tells me she would have been in a car anyway, so now she's in a car that will let us conclusively determine whether she can drive or not. And we've got two good drivers in the NHLR cars as a result. Everyone relax just a tad. Given that the past week has been a string of "So-and-so is closing up shop," rumors and announcements, Doornbos and Rahal ending up in fully-funded NHLR rides a couple of months before the season starts is fabulous news. And all we have to do is give someone who seems like a nice person a chance in solid equipment? Oh, no!

  6. Anonymous // February 04, 2009 1:09 PM  

    Well said Tab,

    I think it's exciting she is going to be back, especially if she has the equipment to run with Danica. That could make for some good ratings with everyone watching to see if there will be another fur-flying cat fight! Can you imagine how the Princess will react if Milkalicious starts finishing ahead of her in a few races. Even though I love Danica that could be fun!

  7. vitorfan // February 04, 2009 1:15 PM  

    "Is that entirely implausible given that she was knocking on a Top 15 with Dreyer & Reinbold?"

    Accordingly to the article she finished 14th at Chicago.

    Not trying to be nitpicky, just further backing your side that she IS progressing.

  8. The American Mutt // February 04, 2009 1:45 PM  

    Pressdog,

    Why does it prove that it's the car and not the driver, and wouldn't it also prove that maybe she is somewhat decent but was stuck in a pig. Sarah didn't exactly light the world on fire in a D&R car either. Just sayin'.

  9. The American Mutt // February 04, 2009 1:47 PM  

    Pressdog,

    Let me rephrase that a little. Doesn't it seem somewhat hypocritical to say if she does well it's the car, and if she does bad it's her fault.

    Double Standard no?

  10. AZZO45 // February 05, 2009 5:59 PM  

    I said it in another post... Paul Newman is VIOLENTLY flipping in his grave!!! :( :(

    Paul didn't help keep Newman-Haas Racing afloat with his own $$$ to have Haas-Lanigan Racing field rent-A-drivers like Milk & Donuts. McDonald's & Pacific Care were sponsors that were on the sidepods for one reason... PLN.

    So history walks & horse-crap driving skill + CITGO money talks, eh? Sad. At least PLN stressed inspiring driving talent for NH(L)R

    Also, "Bobby D": I read his sugar daddy, sponsor ING is bleeding red ink. Their backing of Renault F1 has reported to be shaky. Banking $$$ ain't what it used to be folks. Ask Williams about RBS & the BMW Sauber boys if they miss Credit Suisse $$$

  11. Anonymous // February 21, 2009 3:21 AM  

    Milka should have spent a year in Indy Lights before buying a ride on the IRL circuit but she didn't and her first year showed it. She improved a lot the second year and the comments about her being dangerous on the track disappeared. She is still lerning and hasn't leveled off; she keeps improving and at this rate and with a more competitve car, she should show good growth in year three. If she keeps growing, the no-sayers could eat their words within the next two years. Don't rule out any woman that can earn three masters degrees simulaneously and amassed a stellar racing record in other other race car series before turning to IRL. This lady has a history of succeeding at anything she focuses on. Dismiss her at your own risk, the smart money is on Milka being a top ten driver within two years.