With the recent debut of “Prince and Princess Sparkle Pony” (Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., for those who have been living under a rock) and the divorce of Ashley Judd and Dario Franchitti, the gossip of racing has been brought to the forefront of the tabloids. Although some may complain that only pure racing-related news should be getting the publicity, one can argue that any press is good press, especially in the world of racing.
After her exit from open wheel racing, Danica Patrick has been the black sheep of the IndyCar world. That being said, I’m not afraid to talk about the impact her new relationship with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has on her persona and the way the public perceives her. During her IndyCar career, Patrick was often portrayed by the media as a heartless, cold b*tch, and while she had her die hard fans, there were often more who hated her. Patrick was often looked down upon during her first season in stock cars, partially because she was the woman in the boys club, but also because of her personality. Flash forward to this offseason–Patrick and her husband split, but she handled it with the utmost of class. Since the split, she has coupled up with Stenhouse Jr, forming the ‘power couple’ of NASCAR.
Quite frankly, I couldn’t care who Patrick is dating…but that being said, there are plenty of people who ARE interested. I must admit that my interest is piqued, and I may tune into a race or two to see what it is like racing your significant other–instead of making them sleep on the couch, do you turn them into the wall? Despite the gossip, Patrick is turning a very personal situation into a great PR event, and you know what they say–any press is good press.
Back in our comfortable open wheel world, IndyCar is starved for press attention. Fans are hoping the release of Turbo and another strong season help to continue to push the series back to the forefront of racing. That being said, is what IndyCar needs a spin on the Patrick/Stenhouse combination?
Everyone always says that IndyCar needs something to catch the casual fans–maybe a young gun dating a movie star might help? Sure, we have the always attractive WAGs of IndyCar (shameless plug for a previous blog), but imagine the waves if Newgarden dated an Alessandra Ambrosio or a Lily Aldridge? Yes, the guy can always hope, but people would definitely pay attention–if only to see a model roaming pit lane. Cheap gimmick, sure, but IndyCar needs to get people in the door to give the sport a chance. We have Turbo coming for young kids, but what about those older ‘kids’? They might be there for ulterior motives, but when they actually see the racing and the personalities, IndyCar might make a fan of them yet.
Next time you see a headline featuring Patrick and Stenhouse Jr., don’t think about how much you can’t stand her, think about how IndyCar can use some of that same publicity to promote itself. Then I fully allow you to curse her mere existence, if you so desire.