Women intimidated by male-dominated industries have a new heroine: Danica Patrick. Danica Patrick isn’t just playing with the boys, she’s beating them at their own game. This past weekend Danica Patrick made history by becoming the first woman ever to take the pole at the Daytona 500. She came in with the fastest lap during qualifying and will have the coveted inside lane on the front row at the start of the race. How fast was she going? It was a blistering 196.434 mph that just edged out NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon. Gordon who will share the front row was quoted as saying, “This is great for the sport and the rest of us will benefit from it. I’m proud to sit on the front row with her.”
As for Danica, she says she was raised to be the fastest driver on the track, not the fastest girl. In an interview on CNN, Danica told Don Lemon, “I’ve heard stories about a kid, a boy or a girl, saying, ‘But mommy, daddy. That’s a girl that’s out there racing.’ And then they can have that conversation to say that, ‘You can do anything you want to do, and gender doesn’t matter.’ Your passion is what matters. And that’s cool.”
Following her passion led her to break barriers on the Indy car circuit and, as she’s made the transition to NASCAR, the barriers continue to fall. Her popularity with race fans has led to corporate sponsorships and branding. She has become a household name. For a generation of girls who grew up watching the likes of Mario Andretti and Dale Earnhardt, seeing a woman not just making the field but leading it is a dream come true.
Whether you’re a NASCAR fan, an Indy car fan or neither, Danica Patrick presents an inspiration. Don’t strive to be the best woman in your field. Instead strive be the best in your field.