Richard Petty’s Comments Are Wrong, But Not Extremely Sexist
By Ryan O`Hara On Wed, Feb. 12, 2014
I am not a man that likes to intrude into the issue of sexism, and that includes politics as well. It is an issue that divides the people. However, we are talking about two different generations here. Richard Petty, who won 200 races and seven cup championships in his career said the following when asked if Danica Patrick would ever find victory lane in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series:
“If everybody stayed home. If she’d been a male, nobody would ever know if she’d showed up at a race track.”
I see some truth to Petty’s comments. Now, before I get tackled and pitchforked by Danica Patrick fans, I want to let you know that I disagree with Petty for the most part, and that I support Danica Patrick 100 percent.
Richard Petty grew up in an entirely different generation than we have. Therefore, his views will reflect a more traditional look at things. We will endure the same problems when we are Petty’s age. A new generation will come in and they will see our way of life rather peculiar and offensive.
For example, let’s use Darrell Waltrip. Toward the end of Darrell Waltrip’s career, Waltrip was not running very well. Danica Patrick did not have a terrible year for a rookie, but everyone can use improvement. If Patrick were in Waltrip’s position in 1999, it is conceivable that fans would definitely notice Patrick more than Waltrip. That is the point Petty is trying to make. At this point, Patrick is known for looks more than performance on the race track and if Patrick were a male, it would be a different story. I agree with that. Patrick brings publicity and fans to the track. That is what we need as a growing sport.
Many people are describing Petty’s comments as an “extremely sexist hyperbole.” NASCAR has been a male-dominated sport and it always will be. On the other hand, NASCAR has changed in many ways. The competition is tighter than ever and this will produce random winners at times. With that being said, Danica Patrick could win a race next season, most likely at a plate track.
To clear everything up: Were the comments sexist? Yes, by definition. However, it is a very sensitive topic in this generation. So, it should not be a shock that people will take Petty’s comments in a negative light. Petty is a legend in our sport and has earned all the accolades.
Danica Patrick has also earned accolades. Will Patrick ever win seven cup titles and rack up 200 wins? No, that is very doubtful, but Patrick has made a big investment into enhancing women’s athletics. Growing up, most could still not grasp the thought of a woman wheeling a race car. Then in 2004, Danica Patrick came into the spotlight. It was the next year, in 2005, Patrick became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500. Now, it is starting to become a common trend.
While women like Jennifer Jo Cobb, Shannon Mudro, Johanna Long, and Cassie Gannis are all fine examples of women trying to make their way to the top racing series in America, it is not just racing. Katie Copple, Ashley Schindler, and Kaitlyn Vincie are three candidates to be the first-ever females to announce a NASCAR race. In 2014, this is something that could soon become reality for three very intelligent, determined individuals. Their quest to achieve broadcasting heaven is just as realistic as mine.