Deborah Renshaw, the most successful woman driver to come through historical Fairgrounds Speedway, has never shied away from controversy or hesitated to speak her mind.
So, it was no surprise that she fired away when asked what she thinks about Danica Patrick’s participation in those risqué GoDaddy commercials.
“Shame on her and shame on GoDaddy,” she said.
And just to make sure she’s perfectly clear, Renshaw added, “Selling sex is what has gotten her to the level that she’s at.”
The GoDaddy TV commercial that aired during the Super Bowl showed a hot model planting a smooch on a nerd – in extreme close-up – while Patrick stood by their side and narrated the action.
Reviews of the commercial varied from “tasteless and uncomfortable” to “sleazy and queasy.”
Renshaw called it “shocking.”
Even though Renshaw has been retired from racing for a few years, she remains well remembered by area fans and was a hit during a recent appearance on the "TalkApolis" racing show.
Patrick had just made a big splash by winning the Daytona 500 pole, and naturally, she was a hot topic during the show. I wasn’t surprised at Renshaw’s take on the matter. She’s never been a fan of Patrick's methods of self-promotion.
To really understand the situation, it is important to remember that Renshaw was thrust into the national spotlight in 2002 when several rival male Fairgrounds drivers conspired to get her car disqualified. When NASCAR officials learned of the plot, President Mike Helton called track promoter Dennis Grau and gave him a through chewing out. Grau, on behalf of the track, apologized to Renshaw, as did most of the drivers involved in the boorish behavior.
Renshaw went on to race in the ARCA Series and the NASCAR truck series, in which she became the first woman to lead a lap. She was negotiating a ride in the second-tier Nationwide Series when sponsorship problems forced the team to park its car. Her promising career never got back on track.
Today Renshaw resides in Bowling Green, Ky., with her husband, Shawn Parker, a former NASCAR crew chief, and their two children.
At 37, she realizes her dream of racing professionally is probably over. But, Renshaw has said she hopes that the hurdles and obstacles she was forced to overcome serve as inspiration to other aspiring young female drivers.
Renshaw contends she paid her dues by hard work, not by flaunting her own runway-model looks, and resents the path Patrick has taken. She says Patrick is using a sexy persona to sell herself to fans and media, and that sends a bad message.
“Danica needs to show children that hard work makes you successful, not making commercials that involve showing as much skin as possible,” Renshaw said. “You have to be a good role model when you’re in a position like Danica is in, and I don’t think she gets that.”
Renshaw didn’t voice anything that hasn’t been said before by critics.
Ever since she splashed down in the IndyCar Series, they have claimed that Patrick’s hot body, not her hot racing, is what advanced her career.
Patrick has made great strides in showing that she has driving talent – winning the Daytona pole, for example – yet she persists in cashing in on her sexuality with the steamy GoDaddy commercials.
“I thought it was shameful when she first started doing it,” Renshaw said, “and I think it is shameful now.”