Danica Patrick signs a fan's poster during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
By Lee Montgomery
When I first heard the suggestion that someone create a female-only racing league, I thought of Samir from Office Space in response to co-worker Tom's "Jump to Conclusions" mat:
"Yes, this is horrible, this idea," Samir said.
So with apologies to SBNation.com colleague Jeff Gluck, let me count the ways this is a horrible idea:
For starters, it sends a terrible message to women who want to be race-car drivers. Are we now telling them they can only be "female drivers" and not simply "drivers"?
Oh, you aren't good enough to compete in the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series or Camping World Truck Series, so let's make a Women in NASCAR Series. Maybe we should make them all wear pink, too?
Heck, why don't we make a Minority Series, too? Only African-Americans can race in this series, with women in that one and Redheads in another.
Dale Jarrett once said in response to a question about his age that the race car doesn't know how old he is. And the same can be said for Danica Patrick, Johanna Long and other women currently competing in NASCAR.
If a woman has the talent to win races, she will. A talented race-car driver will get the chance, no matter what color or gender or anything. We don't need to create a condescending women-only series to give anyone any more opportunities.
And what self-respecting female driver would race in such a league? I would say any female driver who wants to eventually race in Sprint Cup would shudder at the thought of only competing against other women.
NHRA great Shirley Muldowney, I'm guessing, would spit at the thought.
So too, I'm guessing, would Patrick and Long. They want to prove themselves against the best, not the best women.
I got to spend some time with Long before the season, and she bristled at being referred to as a "female driver." She's a race-car driver, pure and simple. Why do people keep bringing up her gender? Does it really matter? Not to her.
NASCAR has made strides in recent years to increase the number of women and minorities as drivers, and that's a good thing. It's not exactly Affirmative Action, but it helps. Until the day comes where everyone gets an equal shot at getting a ride in NASCAR, maybe we still need NASCAR's diversity efforts.
And by the sound of this horrible "female-only" series, it seems there still are deep-seeded biases against women and other minorities.
Oh, but there are professional leagues in other sports for women, you say. Yes, there are. But racing is different. There is nothing physically or mentally that can prevent a woman from driving a race car just as well as a man, nothing.
And this women-only series would also supposedly bring more exposure to females? I seriously doubt it. For starters, if you get enough women to drive in it, who is going to broadcast it? Fox? ESPN? Wouldn't it just get drowned out by all the other racing series?
And who's going to pay for all the cars, parts and people needed to field such a series? It's not like money is abundant in NASCAR right now.
No, let's put this women-only series where it belongs: in the toilet.
Let's treat women just like we treat men in this sport: Give them a chance to prove themselves. Has Patrick gotten enough of a chance yet? Has Long? Has Jennifer Jo Cobb?
For that matter, has Bryan Clauson? Landon Cassill?
Becoming a top-flight NASCAR driver is a nearly impossible task for anyone. It takes extraordinary talent, determination and loads of luck and timing. Maybe it is harder for a woman to get a break in this sport, but maybe that will change over time.
Well, to paraphrase a quote from President Bartlet from The West Wing, "And even if it didn't change it would remain a stupid idea."