Danica Patrick won the Indy Japan 300this weekend, becoming the first female winner in IndyCar history. I’m not an IndyCar fan, but I have been a Danica Patrick fan ever since this incident in 2005 (as reported by IWF’s Carrie Lukas on NRO):
Last month, Patrick finished fourth in the Indianapolis 500, the best finish by a woman in the history of the nearly century-old race. Her response to sexist remarks made by Formula One boss, Bernie Ecclestone, during a “congratulatory” phone call, deserves equally enthusiast applause.
When talking to Patrick, Ecclestone remarked that “women should be all dressed in white like all other domestic appliances.” He also repeated this bizarre sentiment in an interview. This wasn’t the first time Ecclestone has made offensive remarks. According to an Associated Press story written about the phone call, in 2000 Ecclestone told Autosport Racing magazine that for a woman to compete in Formula One, “she would have to be a woman who was blowing away the boys. … What I would really like to see happen is to find the right girl, perhaps a black girl with super looks, preferably Jewish or Muslim, who speaks Spanish.”
Patrick’s reaction to the weird, sexist comments? She shrugged them off: “I was a bit confused. …So I don’t really know what to think about it. I don’t know if he was talking about someone else or the majority or what, I’m not really sure. Or, maybe that’s his real feeling. If that’s the case, then you know, [it] doesn’t really matter because I’m racing in the Indy Racing League.”
It’s a refreshing change from the overreaction we have come to expect when someone is confronted with offensive behavior. Patrick could have called for Ecclestone’s resignation or fueled a media frenzy to investigate the “boys club” of auto racing. She could have demanded that Formula One create a nonprofit seeking to achieve greater gender balance in auto racing.
But she didn’t. She’s in the Indy Racing League, after all. Some jerk’s remarks are small potatoes.