I'm not going to lie: I like Danica Patrick.
She's the all-around package: attractive, successful, smart and skilled. She has accomplished much with very little and against great odds.
Her maiden IndyCar victory at Motegi this year was truly amazing. At only 26 years old. she's on the rise in IndyCar, and with the reemergence of ChampCar and IndyCar joined at the hip, she's going to have her hands full very soon.
However, try as one might, it's impossible to deny one's dreams. Danica dreams of moving beyond IndyCar to the pinnacle of motor sports: Formula One. Who can blame her?
To be the best, a racer must suffer the trials, tribulations, and circus atmosphere of triple-digit corner-apexing speeds, physical stresses virtually unheard of in any other sport, and truly international competition and acclaim, all packed within the confines of the most advanced, fastest and expensive open-wheel race cars in the world.
We like you in IndyCar, Danica, but you're needed elsewhere.
The last American to grace the grids of Formula One was Scott Speed. The California native enjoyed little of the experience behind the wheel of his Scuderia Toro Rosso, a team admittedly created simply to reward the winner of the Red Bull Driver's Search program.
As unfortunate as his exit from the sport was, it was even more unfortunate in that it fueled the fires of the international community that Americans simply weren't cut out for the sport.
Further fueling that fire was the fact that since an American wasn't participating in the sport, its popularity began waning with the American audience.
Combine that with the (then-) awful state of open-wheel racing between the competing IRL and ChampCar leagues, and it's quite easy to see why Formula One was reluctant in signing a new contract with Indianapolis Motor Speedway hotshot Tony George.
Disappointment was had by all, and the future seemed dire for open-wheel racing—Formula One in particular—in the United States.
Then comes 2008 and the tides of change. Rumors abound of Tony George's IRL making nice with ChampCar and finally merging. Then comes fresh rumors of Tony George working to secure title sponsors for a 2009 United States Grand Prix, just in time to celebrate the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's centennial birthday.
After making the IRL/ChampCar merger official, Tony has gained a little more credibility, and many believe that if anyone can bring Formula One back Stateside, it's him.
With a united open-wheel scene and a return to IMS in 2009 in the works, it would seem that, despite a dire situation, things are looking to be on the upshot. The only way in which to make this situation any better would be if there was an American driver to rally behind.
Honda F1's Jenson Button, when previously interviewed by men's lifestyle magazine FHM had joked, "a girl with big boobs would never be comfortable in the car, and the mechanics wouldn't concentrate. Can you imagine strapping her in? You wouldn't want to be on the circuit with them, would you?"
Funny you should say that, Jenson. Danica Patrick just called. She said she wants your ride.
Yesterday, Honda CEO Nick Fry admitted to Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung that Danica will indeed test for the car company's Formula One team. The test, using the year's best configuration of the Formula One car, will occur at either Barcelona or Jerez in Spain in November. Both of these are popular testing grounds for the Formula One teams.
The last woman to attempt entry into the height of motorsports: Italy's Giovanna Amati. She lasted all of three qualifying sessions for Brabham in 1992 before being ousted in favor of Damon Hill.