By popular demand, we continue our look at the women who defy convention, and a whole lot of reluctant men, to pursue their love of racing by getting behind the wheel.
Like many another NASCAR driver of yesteryear, Patty Moise's story begins with a stack of speeding tickets. Raised by her race-driver daddy, Milton, Patty didn't have a whole lot of interest in racing herself till she got her first driving license at 16, and "a '75 Camaro," she told NASCAR.com a few years back. "It had headers, mag wheels and big, fat tires." Once she got behind the wheel, she became a young speed demon.
"I went berserk, crazy, racing and chasing, just stupid high-school stuff. I was really lucky not to get killed. Played chicken ... every bad thing you don't want your kid to do in a car, that was me. I really got in a lot of trouble, got a lot of tickets, had a few wrecks." In fact, one story has it that her family's insurance company dropped them because of her hijinks.
Of course the thing to do was to provide a more, shall we say, healthy outlet for her youthful exuberance. So she started running road course races part-time in the series formerly known as IMSA. She did this for the first five years of her career, before switching to ovals in 1986. Racing in the NASCAR Busch Series, she became the first woman to lead a Busch Series event, and the first ever to win a Busch qualifying race.
In 1990 Patty married Elton Sawyer, who was also a driver at the time. Occasionally they even raced in the same events, though Patty said she never really thought about the fact that she was competing against her husband. (Though she did say that "passing Elton for a win would make for some interesting conversation during the ride home from the race.")
Patty herself was constantly plagued by sponsorship issues, which mostly kept her from running a full-time schedule. She retired when the money dried up yet again after the 1998 season. "You can't compete at this level without the sponsors," she said. "And once you get a sponsor, you are an advertising mechanism -- you are working for someone else, and you feel the pressure to do well." Which might explain what is driving Danica Patrick to participate in those
embarrassing imaginative GoDaddy commercials.
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