Danica’s visit raises $45,000 for Muscular Dystrophy

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115394510332391.jpg’, ‘Photo by Doug Halberstadt’, ‘Former Roscoe resident and Indy Racing League driver Danica Patrick signs copies of her book, Crossing the Line, at the RiverHawks Stadium July 18. Proceeds from the sale of her book and an auction of the RiverHawks’ jerseys and the jersey worn by Patrick—a total of $45,000—went to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115394514532390.jpg’, ‘Photo by Doug Halberstadt’, ‘The Rockford RiverHawks wore special jerseys during their July 18 home game. The jerseys were designed as a replica of Danica Patrick’s Argent racing uniform. The jerseys worn by the players, and the jersey worn by Patrick, were autographed by Patrick following the game and then auctioned off.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115394571430271.jpg’, ‘Photo by Doug Halberstadt’, ‘Fans got an up-close view of Danica Patrick’s No. 16 Honda Indy Car July 18 at RiverHawks Stadium.’);

Former Roscoe resident and 2005 Indy Racing League (IRL) Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick and her Indy car were at the RiverHawks Stadium last Tuesday evening, July 18. Unless you have been purposely boycotting any of the local media, or out of town, you probably already knew that.

Patrick was on hand to help raise money for the local chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Fans were able to purchase her book, Crossing the Line; she signed the books that were purchased at the event. She also autographed special jerseys that were worn by RiverHawks players during the game and auctioned off afterward. It was reported on the team’s Web site that MDA received close to $45,000 from the proceeds of the book sale and jersey auction.

I don’t ever remember the media being so gaga over any other celebrity who has visited our fair city. Maybe it’s because she is from the area, or maybe it’s because she is so photogenic and camera-friendly. Whatever the reason, she did cause a stir. Every local television station was live from the stadium that night. Even Chicago’s WGN graced Rockford with its presence. Radio stations had Danica talk, and she garnered front-page attention from the daily.

Based on the conversations I heard, she seems to be one of those celebrities whom people really like, or really like to dislike. I’m not sure I understand why some of those people didn’t like her. If I had to venture a guess, I would say jealousy or envy.

She was extremely nice to all of the people I witnessed her with. She was very gracious and appreciative toward the many people who wanted to have their pictures taken with her. I never saw her display any type of primadonna attitude or any of the other negative things people were saying about her.

Based on my limited time around her, I would have to say she is one celebrity whom I really like.

Editor’s note: Following speculation Danica Patrick might leave the Indy Racing League for the NASCAR Nextel Cup series when her contract with Rahal-Letterman Racing expires at the end of the season, recent reports indicate Patrick may be staying in the IRL, just switching teams to join Andretti Green Racing (AGR).

As reported on AutoWeek’s Web site: “Patrick couldn’t answer questions about a rumored deal with AGR, but it was clear amid verbal barbs with her boss, Bobby Rahal, that their racing marriage is nearing its end.

“With NASCAR out of the question for Patrick (her words, not ours), Team Penske officials laughing off thoughts of them courting her, Panther Racing lacking the funds and Ganassi spent from a whirlwind signing of Juan Pablo Montoya for Nextel Cup, everything points to AGR being her secret.”

Patrick is ninth in the points race, 133 behind leader Sam Hornish Jr., with four races remaining.

At the Milwaukee Mile July 23, Patrick claimed her second-straight fourth-place finish, a career best, after finishing fourth at Nashville Superspeedway July 15.

The series moves to Michigan International Speedway Sunday, July 30, for the Firestone Indy 400. Patrick finished 20th at Michigan last year. The race will be broadcast on ABC at 2:30 p.m.

Doug Halberstadt is a local resident and is track announcer at Rockford Speedway. He can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.

From the July 26-Aug. 1, 2006, issue

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