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Indy 500 vet St. James calls Danica Patrick 'amazing'

Friday, June 3, 2005

Josh Cannon photo

Lyn St. James hands Darrell Moore his hat back after autographing it Thursday while Cody Randall waits his turn. St. James signed copies of her new book "Oh, By the Way" and met with fans at the Clay Health Center.

Seven-time Indy 500 racecar driver Lyn St. James says racing is an easier sport for women to get into than others and encourages them to get involved.

St. James sold copies of her new book "Oh, By the Way" and signed autographs Thursday at the Clay Health Center less than a week after she attended the Indy 500 and cheered on driver Danica Patrick, who many thought would win the race Sunday.

St. James first met Danica when she was 14 and then again later when she was 16 through the Driver Development Foundation St. James founded.

After Danica finished fourth place in the race, St. James said "I wasn't surprised."

"Her performance was amazing. It was good for women in racing and women everywhere," she said.

She described racing as a sport that women have a great opportunity to succeed in because all the drivers look the same in their uniforms, helmets and inside their vehicles eliminating their gender and putting the focus on their abilities.

Danica's near victory will change the view of racing.

"It'll help grow the support," she said.

St. James said she receives much fan mail from her male and female fans. However, most of the fan mail she receives from women is seeking racing advice.

"When you compete in a racecar, you're almost invisible," she said. "I think that helped the whole gender thing."

Racing isn't about being male or female, she said, citing words of encouragement a friend gave her once. "Concentrate on the doughnut and not on the hole."

As long as the driver is doing their best, everything else will fall into place, she said.

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