Jul 4, 2005
Bernie, Bernie, BernieBy JR Nerad
Check the date, please. If my calendar is correct this is July 4, 2005. It is not July 4, 1925, or July 4, 1955, but apparently Bernie Ecclestone, who is the grand poobah of Formula One racing, has no clue. In fact, after his comments of the past few weeks, including his reaction to the U.S. Grand Prix fiasco at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, one might get the impression he has no clue about what century he's living in. Or anything else, for that matter.
If you haven't heard, Ecclestone created a tempest when he was asked about Danica Patrick's great run in the Indy 500 that resulted in her fourth place finish. Bernie has been on record as feeling that women would be unable to compete successfully in F1 racing, so his reaction was predictable, but at least he made it colorful.
Ecclestone said, "You know I've got one of those wonderful ideas -- women should be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances."
This, of course, caused a furor, and many in the racing community called for Ecclestone to apologize, but Bernie never goes off quietly into the night. He decided to call Patrick, ostensibly to ask forgiveness and make nice, but while he had Patrick on the phone he essentially repeated the "domestic appliance" sentiments that had got him in hot water in the first place. In fairness to Ecclestone, he also complimented Patrick on her successes while on the call, but his overall message left Patrick confused, if not dazed.
If you can't say anything else for Bernie, at least he is consistent. Not only did he repeat to Patrick the quote that had been attributed to him, he has held the same sort of opinion for a long time. For example, the 74-year-old king of Grand Prix racing once was quoted in Autosport magazine as saying, "What I would really like to see happen is to find the right girl, perhaps a black girl with super looks, preferably Jewish or Muslim, who speaks Spanish." Presumably Bernie, ever the marketer, was referring to a woman who might race in the F1 series. Or he might have just been fantasizing. Who knows?
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