The Danica Patrick Future Debate – International Attention Is the Formula For Success

Read Loyal Homer’s argument that Danica should go to NASCAR and Bleacher Fan’s argument that Danica should stay in the IRL.

As Loyal Homer points out, there is money to be made from winning a NASCAR race. No argument from me on that. But, as is the case with most sports, the ability to earn revenue OFF the track is just as important as winning on the track. And, endorsements usually come with wins… that is for everyone but Danica Patrick. In fact, her lone win the IRL – last April in Japan – failed to score any new endorsement deals. That means before the win she had the following deals already active:

  • Marquis Jet
  • Tissot
  • Peak Antifreeze
  • Kaenon Polarized Sunglasses
  • Alpinestars
  • Motorola
  • AirTran
  • GoDaddy

Folks, that’s with only one win – and without using that win to land new endorsement deals. In short, Danica doesn’t need to win vast amounts of races (the metric Bleacher Fan would have you use to define success) to be successful or wealthy. With her tremendous marketing appeal, the time is right for her to move to a stage worthy of her star power. Danica Patrick should drive internationally, in Formula One.

The seemingly ideal scenario awaits Danica Patrick with the announcement of the U.S. Formula 1 team which will begin competing in 2010, and testing in November of this year. There she has the opportunity to maximize her exposure (easy, boys) worldwide while preserving her reach and popularity in the United States. It would also be an ideal scenario for Formula One racing, which recently lost their lone States-side race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway because president of Formula One Management, and all around bizarre human being, Bernie Ecclestone, doesn’t think the U.S. is a big enough market.

For Danica to gain global popularity she just has to show up at these races, not win them. Plus, she’s good for controversy because she does care deeply about winning, and refuses to shy away from a good pit-side shouting match with another driver.

But more important than all of that stuff is that Danica Patrick is a good racecar driver. While she has won only one race (at this point), she is always competitive and her lack of multiple wins is more a result of the poor job her pit crew has done, than to her failure on the track.

Because she is a talented racecar driver, I’m going to say something that SOMEONE should have told her a long time ago – If you want to be respected as a good racecar driver, don’t use sex appeal to sell that idea. Of course she’s attractive. But the more she uses her body to sell her brand, the less credible her driving becomes, and the more she appears as a sideshow, instead of THE show. She’s good enough to be the show.

She has the talent to win in Formula One, and the appeal to attract endorsements on an international stage, boosting her far above the handful of six figure endorsement deals she has now. If an opportunity exists to jump to F1, Danica must take it to prove she belongs as a great racecar driver, while continuing to rake in gobs and gobs of cash.

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