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February 23, 2013

Danica PatrickI don't care too much about car races. To me, the Daytona 500 is like the World Series of racing - only instead of everyone running bases and scratching themselves- this one involves all drivers incapable of turning right (please no nasty comments from Nascar die-hards – just my opinion).

But this year is different- this year a GIRL has taken pole position in a race that has, until this point, been dominated by men.  A GIRL. 

Danica Patrick has been a media darling all week- if you have not heard her name or seen her green car, you must be living under a rock.  Danica is different- she is the underdog (or is she?) and I guarantee you that the Daytona 500 would NOT be getting this much media exposure if Jeff Gordon had won pole position instead of coming in second.  Danica Patrick and Jeff Gordon BOTH passed the 196 mph mark, which seems impressive enough.  However, it was Danica’s 196.434 mph that secured her pole position.

Will she win?  In my eyes, she and NASCAR already have.  There will be more eyeballs on the race this year because of Danica, not in spite of her.   Parents of young woman will all use this time to tell their little girls that’s it ok to be different, and more importantly, its ok not to be afraid of following those talents.  Even Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson all took their daughters to meet Patrick this week and get autographs. 

The media is attracted to different, and differentiation is not easy- there are obstacles at every corner, and you need professionals to help you determine what sets you apart.  Danica has many more obstacles to go, but she and her team have looked at what works, and what doesn’t. The media has amplified her message, and even if she loses this year, NASCAR already has a successful PR campaign on their hands.

So, yes, I will be watching.  I will grant NASCAR, Fox Sports, and all the advertisers within and around the race my eyeballs.  I will be one of the casual watchers of the sport who has tuned in – even if it’s just to say to Danica “You Go Girl.”  Can she validate the hype?  She already has.

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