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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Indy Racer Danica Patrick Concerened About Racing in Japan

Not the car or outfit Danica Patrick will have at the race.
Indy Car racer Danica Patrick who may indeed be more famous for being a hot-looking woman who is a race car driver than a race car driver made some comments on Thursday September 15, 2011 that made people in Japan a tad angry.

She expressed some concerns about actually being in Japan for the Indy Japan taking place at the Twin Ring Motegi course about 93 miles from the Fukushima-ken (Fukushima Prefecture) Dai-ichi (Big One) nuclear reactor that was damaged following the March 11, 2011 Magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami.The tsunami actually caused power to go off at the plant which then led to a near nuclear meltdown on the northeast coast of Japan. In the ensuing near meltdown, radiation leaked into the air, water and ground - so her concerns are not unwarranted and not completely naive.

Patrick says she was concerned about the radiation levels in the food and water and the possibilities of aftershocks.

Everybody poo-pooed her, saying she was causing trouble at the host nation that has done an admirable job of recovery in the face of these disasters.

But, just to prove that her concerns weren't unfounded, Patrick, whose garb in the photo above shows she knows something about there being a god, must have caused the gods to prove her point.

A strong 6.2 Magnitude earthquake struck the area jolting the Motegi course shaking buildings later that day, though the course itself was not damaged. The U.S. Geological Survey says a 6.2 magnitude quake struck near the coast of Ibaraki-ken (Ibaraki Prefecture), about 140 miles (220 kilometers) east of Tokyo, at a depth of 6 miles (10 kilometers) late on Thursday at 5PM.

And, in case you were wondering, a TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) spokesman says the Dai-ichi plant did not sustain any damage. TEPCO is a privately-owned company that owns and operates that nuclear facility amongst others in  Japan. Oh... and Japan's Meteorological Agency said there was no risk of a tsunami.

"Having concerns about coming here is completely understandable," says Patrick on Friday September 16, 2011. "Now that I'm here, I've eaten the food, I go out running in the morning so I'm doing the things I normally do here and it seems like everything is fine."

The original Motegi oval 1-1/2 mile course was damaged on March 11, so this year the Indy race will instead be held at a newly repaved 14-turn road course. 

Now Patrick actually loves Japan... she did, in fact, post her only IndyCar series victory in Japan back in 2008, so she's not some dumbass racist.

In fact, she said she's not the only race driver who had reservations about making the trip.

"I know a lot of people are concerned, a lot of us looked at each other and said, 'Are you going to eat here? Did you eat sushi?' We've all asked those questions but it seems fine."

Patrick did not want to talk about other drivers, in particular Tony Kanaan, who had criticized her for speaking out about traveling to Japan.

"I didn't really see that," she notes. "I kind of heard something about it but don't know what was said."

These guy hear everything ever said about them, but it's good that she is taking the higher ground on this. After all, everyone is entitled to their own opinions - flawed and all.

The race on Sunday September 18 is the last IndyCar series event in Japan. Mobilityland Corp., a wholly owned unit of Honda Motor Co., announced this past February (before the disasters!) that due to the economic downturn, the 2011 race will be its last IndyCar race at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit.

After the earthquake, IndyCar series officials did consider canceling this event but decided to go ahead after Honda officials moved the race to Motegi's road course while assuring IndyCar that travel to Japan was indeed safe despite Patrick wondering aloud if it really was.

And yet, despite all of the hubbub about her comments, Patrick will miss racing in Japan.

"I will always have so many great memories of Motegi," Patrick reveals. "The people, the track--although we are on the road course this time--the food, the culture. You can tell the fans are really looking forward to this and are glad we are here."

Files by Andrew Joseph
In the photo above, I believe Danica Patrick is on my second favourite car - a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air. You can tell it's that by the black bumpers under the main headlights... on the car... the car's headlights. My first favourite is a station wagon version - a 1957 Chevy Nomad. Inca Silver, if possible. One day, I'll get one... and drape Danica Patrick over me it. In the meantime, I'm picking up my SAAB 900S tomorrow.

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