Women can also live life in the fast lane | PostIndependent.com

Women can also live life in the fast lane

April in GlenwoodApril E. ClarkGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

When it seems female role models in the headlines are few and far between lately, IndyCar racing comes to the rescue.Practice is officially underway for the Indianapolis 500. And this year for the first time in Indy history three women are attempting to qualify for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.Move over Paris Hilton, Nicole Simpson and Lindsay Lohan.Indy Racing League drivers Milka Duno, Danica Patrick and Sarah Fisher are role models my gender deserves these days. Who needs sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll when you can drive 215 miles per hour legally?These ladies give “life in the fast lane” a whole other meaning.I’d rather see the photos of little girls with Danica Patrick’s #7 painted on their faces than wanna-be Paris’s, Nicoles or Lindsays. Making sex videos, being sentenced to a 45-day stay in jail and ducking out of rehab isn’t the best imagery for growing girls.Unfortunately the worse their behavior, the more we see them grace the covers of tabloid magazines.I remember when it was a good thing to be a nice girl. Long live Mallory Keaton, Vanessa Huxtable and Natalie Green of ’80s-sitcom fame.I just hope Duno’s looks don’t take too much of the spotlight in Indy 500 coverage this year. The rookie from Venezuala is no doubt beautiful. But she’s joining two other female Indy drivers who have proved their place at the Brickyard. Fisher raced in her first Indy 500 in 2000. Patrick was the first woman to lead the race in her rookie debut in 2005.And there were two women who blazed the trail before them. Janet Guthrie did it first in ’77 and Lyn St. James followed in ’92. Guthrie is pleased to see three women contending in such a competitive, male-dominated field.”Yeah, that’s progress,” she said, from her Aspen home. “I wish it would have come sooner.” It was 30 years ago that Guthrie competed in her first Indy 500. She ran in 11 races, her best finish being fifth.”I always used to say I’d be happy if there wasn’t any fuss about women in racing,” she said.Guthrie will be watching the race with keen interest in her successors.”I’m pleased with Sarah … Sarah Fisher is the one who broke all my records,” she said. “She wasn’t even born when I set them. Sarah is a really intelligent woman.”Guthrie’s also impressed with Duno’s educational track record. She’s a naval engineer who holds four master’s degrees three of which she earned at the same time.”Milka is up to her ears in engineering masters,” Guthrie said.She doesn’t underestimate Patrick’s strength in the field of 33 drivers. She certainly has the team and the car to do it.”Danica is very capable,” she said.A woman Indy 500 winner on May 27 would quite possibly be the best day of my life.Along with IndyCar racing, Guthrie wants to see females in NASCAR, too. She was the first woman to compete in the Daytona 500.”I would like to see women in-roads into NASCAR Cup racing, which of course has become the biggest venue,” she said. “But there are so many variables, the biggest one is the enormous amount of money it takes to be competitive.”Just think if Hollywood’s bad girls put all their money into racing instead of partying and shopping. The sponsorship opportunities are endless.And they could make being racy a good thing.April E. Clark loves to hear “Ladies and Gentleman, start your engines.” She can be reached at aclark@postindependent.com and 945-8515 ext. 16601

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