by Kent Sterling
The Petty Family clearly doesn’t think very highly of Danica Patrick or women in NASCAR.
Last year, Kyle Petty created his only headline since he last won a NASCAR race in 1995 by saying that Danica is a marketing machine and not a race car driver.
Richard Petty, Kyle’s dad and the king of NASCAR, told reporters after being asked whether Patrick will ever win a NASCAR race, “If everybody else stayed home. If she’d have been a male, nobody would ever know if she’d showed up at a racetrack. This is a female deal that’s driving her. There’s nothing wrong with that, because that’s good PR for me. More fans come out, people are more interested in it. She has helped to draw attention to the sport, which helps everybody in the sport.”
And talking about Patrick is also good for Petty, which is obviously not lost upon him.
Whether Petty’s comments were contrived to put him front and center two weeks prior to the Daytona 500 or not, he is now being quoted on every motor sports network, show, and website in America. That’s not bad for business.
Patrick’s business is also not harmed by Petty’s silly attack. There is no doubt that Patrick has achieved more as a marketeer than a driver, and being the victim of a sexist rant from a 76 year-old kook whose last race was in 1992.
Say what you will about the Petty Family, Danica Patrick, and NASCAR in general, but they know what puts them front and center in the media, and that’s what sells that series of nap inducing events.
The racing in IndyCar is more fun to watch, has the biggest event in motorsports as its Super Bowl, and comparatively no one watches.
Every time an IndyCar driver does something that causes the series what is believed to be negative publicity, he or she gets fined. What IndyCar needs to learn from NASCAR is that all publicity is good for the series. Rivalries and anger build drama, and drama builds interest.
Richard Petty came off in his comments as a sexist doofus, but for an old doofus he’s a pretty sharp guy.