The Danica Watch

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-111825165513915.jpg’, ”, ‘Danica Patrick’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-111825159626725.jpg’, ”, ”);

Sunday, June 5, was Danica Patrick Day in Illinois, proclaimed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who said in a release, “We have a new hero in Illinois..” It would have been nice if there had been a little advance notice, more than 24 hours. … The 89th Indy 500 earned the race’s highest rating since 1996 as ABC Sports’ coverage earned a national household rating of 6.5. The rating was up 59 percent from 2004, according to NIElsen Media Research. The rating peaked from 3-3:14 p.m. CDT. The final segment of the race earned an 8.6 rating. The pre-race segment (11 a.m.-noon) drew a 3.7 rating, up 61 percent from 2004. On a demographic basis, this year’s race was the highest since 2001 and topped last year’s race in men 18-34 by 130 percent (2.3 rating according to NIElsen), men 18-49 by 75 percent (3.7 rating) and men 25-54 by 68 percent (4.7 rating). The adults 18-49 rating (2.8) is 75 percent higher than last year’s race segment (1.6). The rating is the percentage of all homes with TVs, whether or not they are in use. … In a New York Times story on Danica Patrick as a possible corporate pitchwoman, she said she was interested but only for the right products. It is not known exactly how interested corporations are in having her sell their products, but she has caused a stir. “We’ll have to see, to use some music parlance, if she’s a one-hit wonder, or if she has legs,” said Marc Ganis, the president of SportsCorp, a Chicago-based sports business consulting firm. Patrick, wearing her fire suit, became the first Indy 500 driver to appear as the main photo on the cover of Sports Illustrated since a profile shot of A.J. Foyt appeared on the cover of the May 25, 1981, issue. TV Guide, People and Us have included features on Patrick, and Time, Newsweek and Glamour have scheduled features on her. She already has appeared on several networks. She did 60 interviews in one 48-hour period. “What is most impressive,” Ganis said, “is that she didn’t come across as a deer in the headlights.” Danica said she was aware of only some of the offers that had come to team owner Bobby Rahal and to her agent, Lynn Roach, and that she would sign only with the company, or companies, whose products she would use anyway. … Let’s hope Danica Patrick can dodge the jinx that has befallen others after being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The June 6 edition of SI features Patrick on the cover and two stories about the Indy 500. It’s the first time in at least 20 years Indy car racing has received SI cover treatment. In the main story, E.M. Swift writes Danica lived up to the pre-race media build-up that included interviews, video and photos on everything from ABC World News Tonight to the cover of USA Today. Kelli Anderson writes in the second story the Indy 500 turned Danica into a one-name celebrity. “I try not to get too overwhelmed by the media attention,” Patrick said regarding the magazine, which reaches 20 million adults each week. “But for someone like Sports Illustrated to notice how good our Rahal Letterman team has been this month and to recognize the IndyCar Series like this is great. We have made an impact.” … Danica also will be featured in Us Weekly and Glamour magazines. ESPN will air a special behind-the-scenes show focusing on Patrick at 6:30 p.m. CDT June 11, preceding its coverage of the IRL race at Texas. She also was a guest on ABC’s Good Morning America May 30 and the subject of a celebrity poll on the May 31 broadcast of Extra. Danica and eventual winner Dan Wheldon swapping the lead twice in the waning stages of Indy was a hit with a worldwide TV, radio and Internet audience and became an instant classic, according to ESPN. Millions of fans agree, and so do many media outlets. ESPN Classic re-broadcast the “SportsCenter at the Indy 500,” which featured the history of women at the 500 and the race June 3. … Four umbrellas, eight T-shirts, a dozen hats and four autographed pictures of Danica, provided to the Firehouse Pub in Roscoe by her parents, T.J. and Bev Patrick, were auctioned off at the establishment’s May 30 Indy 500 party to raise $3,500 for the Harlem-Roscoe Fire Department, reported the Beloit Daily News. … Danica was named JPMorgan Chase Rookie of the Year in the race and claimed its $25,000 bonus as part of her overall winnings of $378,855. The 23-year-old finished fourth and became the first woman to lead the Indy 500 and the highest-finishing woman in the race’s history. Patrick led three times for 19 laps (last week I incorrectly said 17 laps) and as late as lap 193 of the 200-lap race before being passed by winner Dan Wheldon. The Englishman earned $1,537,805 from a record total purse of $10,304,815. His payday was not a record; Buddy Rice, Patrick’s Rahal Letterman teammate, won $1,761,740 for his 2004 victory. But this year’s purse broke the year-old record of $10,250,580 and marked the fourth consecutive year it reached eight figures. … Danica generated tremendous attention to this year’s race and is being credited for creating the most excitement the open-wheel IRL has seen in years. ABC’s broadcast May 29 drew a 6.6 overnight rating and a 17 share, up 40 percent from last year and the highest since 1997. The ratings during the last 15 minutes of the race spiked to 8.8/21. Last year’s race, won by Rice, drew a 4.7/11. Arie Luyendyk’s victory in 1997, which finished on a Tuesday because of rain, drew a 7.6/19. The rating is the percentage of all homes with TVs, whether or not they are in use. Overnight ratings measure the 55 largest TV markets in the United States, covering nearly 70 percent of the country. Share is the percentage of people actually watching TV at a time who tune in at any point during a specific program. Each overnight rating point represents about 735,000 TV homes. … Two of the remaining IRL races are within a 60- to 90-minute drive from Rockford: July 24, The Milwaukee Mile (ESPN), tickets: (414) 453-8277; and Sept. 11, Chicagoland Speedway (ABC), tickets: (815) 727-RACE.

From the June 8-14, 2005, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!