Posted on March 8, 2011 at 5:30 PM
FORT WORTH, TX - When Danica Patrick finished fourth in a Nationwide race in Las Vegas Saturday, it turned out to be the highest finish ever for a woman in Nascar racing.
Patrick stopped by Texas Motor Speedway recently where she discussed her impact on female drivers in motorsports
"I think that no matter what you do, if your new to a business or a team or a place that you have to earn everyone's respect, that inevitably over time, you prove to them whether you deserve it or not," Patrick says.
There were other female drivers before Danica Patrick came along, but she seemed to take it to another level. To this day she remains the only woman to have won a major closed course auto race. That was in April of 2008 when she won an IRL race in Japan.
Her impact on the open wheel racing was noticeable last May when the Indy 500 had a record five female drivers in the field.
"It's unique," says Nascar driver Denny Hamliln. "It just seems like women drivers when they grow up racing go carts or what have you, tend to just stick to open wheels."
"I think the biggest thing here in the Indy car series is that Danica is here and she has shown that she's pretty competitive and I think that opened the doors for a lot of girls," says Simona De Silvestro who races in the Indy Racing League. "In Europe, that hasn't happened yet so we'll see what happens in the future. I think we're all working hard to prove that we can run up front all the time. I think that's going to change a lot of people's minds overseas."
"I think Indy Car and the Indy car fans seemed to have embraced me for who I am," says Pippa Mann who is races in the Indy Light series."Most of the time people find it quite funny that I'm actually quite a girl outside of the car then I get in and go wheel to wheel with anybody out there. If you cross me, I’m just as mad as any of the boys when I get out.
"I do believe that every driver whether they're a girl or a boy has to do out on the race track and run well and prove themselves and earn the respect of the competitors," Patrick says.