Robby Gordon: Danica Patrick Has an Unfair Advantage

Robby Gordon thinks Danica Patrick, in addition to snagging all the interviews because she’s the sexiest driver in this year’s Indy 500, has another advantage: She’s too small.

Robby Gordon says Patrick has an unfair advantage (AP)

Robby Gordon accused Danica Patrick of having an unfair advantage in the Indianapolis 500 and said Saturday he will not compete in the race again unless the field is equalized. Gordon, a former open-wheel driver now in NASCAR, contends that Patrick is at an advantage over the rest of the competitors because she only weighs 100 pounds. Because all the cars weigh the same, Patrick’s is lighter on the race track. “The lighter the car, the faster it goes,” Gordon said. “Do the math. Put her in the car at her weight, then put me or Tony Stewart in the car at 200 pounds and our car is at least 100 pounds heavier. “I won’t race against her until the IRL does something to take that advantage away.”

The Indy Racing League does not consider the weight of the driver in its race specifications. The car has to weigh at least 1,525 pounds before the fuel and driver are added, and teams in Indy have estimated that Patrick will gain close to 1 mph in speed because of her small stature.

Although her rivals in Sunday’s race have said she doesn’t have a huge advantage, pole-sitter Tony Kanaan told reporters he would like the Indy Racing League to look into the issue. “Right off the bat, a guy my size is spotting her 105 pounds,” Gordon said. “That’s the reason she’s so much faster.”

Gordon is absolutely right. In the spirit of unity, this I vow: I will not compete in the NBA finals until the league does something about the fact that Shaquille Oneal is a foot taller than I am and outweighs me by 140 pounds, giving him an unfair advantage in the paint. Similarly, I will not report to training camp with the Dallas Cowboys until they look into the fact that the players are all stronger and faster than I am.

This issue has united the blogosphere, apparently, as both Kevin Aylward and Kevin Drum think Gordon is a moron.

(P.S.: If you arrived by Google looking for nude photos of Danica Patrick, you’ve come to the wrong place.)


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Eneils Bailey says:

    I will disagree with Gordon. How about a 150 pound male driver, should we strap bricks to his ass to make him Gordon’s weight? I think anything she gains in a weight advantage will be dimmished over the long haul of the race. I think she may be at a disadvantage for physical endurance due to her smaller size. She is a pretty little thing, isn’t she?

  2. Freedebate says:

    From Gordon’s perspective in NASCAR, where they DO make weight adjustments, it appears to work much better. Essentially pushing the contest more towards the vehicle and driving capabilities.

    Question: Are there any requirements regarding weight of the driver and/or car?
    ANSWER: Yes, the minimum required weight for a Winston Cup car is 3,400 pounds, with the right side of the car having to weigh at least 1,600 pounds. They came up with a rule a couple of years ago regarding driver weight because some guys like Mark Martin weigh less than 150 pounds, while guys like Dale Jarrett weighed in at around 200 pounds. So, for every 20 pounds a guy is under 200 pounds, they get weight added to the car.

  3. Just Me says:

    I still think Robby Gordon is a big whiner, and is just looking for an excuse to explain why he is going to lose again.

  4. Randy Robinson says:

    I hate to agree with Robby “Crash” Gordon on anything since he’s a perpetually whiny jerk, but he happens to be right about this. NASCAR and F1 already have rules which take the driver’s weight into account. One hundred pounds does make a difference in a sport where cars are separated by fractions of a second per lap. That’s especially true with lightweight cars like the Indycars. A hundred pounds can mean as much as an extra mile per hour and racing teams spend many hours and thousands of dollars to squeeze a single extra mile an hour out of a car.

    Since racing has always had strict rules regarding a car’s weight, James’ comparisons to sports where weight has never been a part of the rules really don’t hold up.

  5. kelley says:

    Then, Randy, most respectfully, why hasn’t Gordon complained about the several men on the IRL circuit who weigh significantly less than he does? They have an unfair advantage, too, right? And he’s been happily losing against them for years. So why the big fuss over Patrick?

    If you ask me, this is a classic case of someone who wouldn’t win anyway, moaning because they might get beat by a girl. Waaah! Mooommmy!

  6. Randy Robinson says:

    Then, Randy, most respectfully, why hasn’t Gordon complained about the several men on the IRL circuit who weigh significantly less than he does? They have an unfair advantage, too, right? And he’s been happily losing against them for years. So why the big fuss over Patrick?

    I’m not saying that Gordon isn’t a whiny jackass. He is. I’m just pointing out that there are valid reasons for including the driver’s weight in neutralizing any weight advantage in the sport, which is why both NASCAR and F1 do it.

  7. nicmart says:

    Were studies conducted before NASCAR’s weight adjusement rule that showed lighter driver to be more likely to win, or outperformed heavier drivers over many races? This would be an easy study to conduct. If no such study exists, then there is no reason for such an adjustment, and no reason for Patrick or others to be handicapped. I have not examined this issue and am not interested in racing, but it would not be surprising that some drivers, perhaps including Gordon, do weight training, with one objective being to bulk up, or increase their muscle weight. If being light is an advantage, heavy muscles would be a disadvantage.

  8. Jim says:

    What I find interesting about Robby Gordon’s comments is the fact that he did not bring this up when Sarah Fisher or any of the other women who have raced against him and the other drivers in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing!”. I do not see him racing in any IRL events except the Indy 500.

    I find his attitude condescending, sexist (I am a male writing this letter btw) and extremely immature. It was obvious in the race that the weight difference was not a factor.

    Robby Gordon (who is the “WORST spectacle in racing!”) needs to grow up. This is the 21st century not the 18th or 19th century. I do not see it as any big loss not having Robby Gordon running at the Indy 500. I for one am looking forward to the day that Danica Patrick wins this race, and it WILL happen…..very, very SOON.

  9. Dan says:

    Gordon GROW UP !! All sports (and life) has different size competition in all forms, physical size in both body and mind. You seem to have need more of the latter. Maybe next year at Indy we will see a car sponsered by DR. Evil and driven by Minni Me – Perhaps Danica will join you and complain about his size too —

  10. Tom says:

    First off , Robby Gordon should stick to off road racing.. Oh, maybe he is trying to do that in NASCAR. I wonder, if less wieght is an advantage in equal cars, then would a heavier person create more down force? either corner better or need less spoiler to corner the same? .. which would create more speed.

  11. Bruce says:

    Gordon never said word one about Christiano DaMatta who weighs in at 130lbs, stands 5’4″ tall and won the Champ Car title, something Gordon never came close to doing. Mr G should look at his weight and wonder aloud, how can I get into better shape. Ever seen him, he’s a bit beefy and could trim a few pounds.

  12. Uncle Donny says:

    The weight advantage is a shame. The IRL has turned the sport into horse racing with tiny little jockeys. That’s why great racers like Tommy Kendall never have a chance in open wheel racing. Jeff Ward looked like a giant in driver introductions and he is a little guy too. Stand next to Michael Andretti and you’d think he’s a midget. Wake-up IRL, F-1, Nascar, NHRA all have weight limits established with driver on board.
    And how can anyone bad mouth Robby Gordon? He is the ONLY guy who has raced and won in NASCAR, CART, TRANS-AM, SCORE, and even won a couple stages in Paris to Dakar this year (the first American EVER). The guy is a throw back to the day when a racer was a real racer, like AJ & Mario were. The guy can drive anything, you guys can’t “drive a nail into a snowbank”. NOBODY else is competitive at the top level in some many vehicles, NOBODY! Nuff said, Seacrest out.

  13. Francis says:

    Hmm, let’s drop this whole thing for a new approach. If we were to go by what whining robby says then clearly Mario Andretti should have won more Indy 500 races than A.J. Foyt and Al Unser given the obvious weight and height differential, but alas that wasn’t the case was it?

    I’m sure an exhuastive search and comparison would prove that weight and or height have nothing to do with victory. It’s all about planning, team work, driving (among other things) and yes a little or a lot, of luck.

    Weight? Give me a break.

    Heck, I seem to recall this yearly thing called IROC that pitted drivers from different fields against each other in identical cars. Hmmm, wonder what happened there, but I’ll bet it had nothing to do with weight.

    What a bunch of panzies.

  14. Happy Nobody says:

    Whaaaaaaaa! She doesn’t weigh enough! Whaaaaaaa!

    Maybe they should just have robots driving the cars. At least then no one would have to listen to this pathetic whining.

  15. Happy Nobody says:

    Uncle Donny, you may have had me until, “Seacrest out.” Don’t do it … ever again.

  16. Gregory says:

    Horsepower/weight ratio is all that racing is about. Lighter is always faster. Robby may be a whiner but he is a correct whiner this time. Maybe Patrick should be a jocky too. Then maybe Robby should play tug-o-war.

  17. Ron says:

    In your article you chide Gordon through satircal comments about Oneal, football players and the like. I would assume that you have no problem with sport figures taking steroids to make themselves larger, in the same way that Gordon could take diet pills to “belittle” himself. If you are as indignant as steroids as the rest of our pious nation, then perhaps you are also against breast augmentation. Imagine strippers (or just your everyday girl in a bar) complaining about a fellow stripper getting all the tips because she has more wares to show due to unfair enhancements. We are all looking for that extra advantage to help us through life. If Gordon wants to even the score then let him lose some inches. Life isn’t fair and you have to adjust to other people’s advantages in every aspect of life. We all at some time or other compete with someone better looking, smarter, quicker, richer…whatever. Do the best with what you have and be happy with the results. If Gordon wants to drop out of a race because he thinks someone else has an advantage, then he should follow the yellow streak all the way to the sideline.

  18. BigBird says:

    Actually, the “weight equals speed” argument is an over-simplification. There are turns (four of ’em Robbie!) at Indy, and weight also translates into down force and down force into increased traction. Whatever advantage Danica or any “lighter” driver has is rubbed out in the turns where the tire adhesion pressures are slightly less due to the lower weight.

    Robbie Gordon is a whining loser, a wall banger, and a soon-to-be NASCAR reject. He got booted from a good team (Childress)and has stayed in the sport (for now at least) only by owning his own team. And please save me the glowing reports of his triumphs in other forms of motor-sport. They were long ago, in a land far away, and often against weak fields.

    Robbie is a jealous and petty driver. He hates Jeff Gordon because Jeff has more cup championships than Robbie has NASCAR wins. Yet it is the Jeff Gordon, Rusty Wallace and Dale junior types that have made NASCAR much more popular and much more profitable for backmarkers like Robbie. He similarly resents the attention Danica brought the 500 this year, even though that attention will benefit all of the IRL (it already has done so, check the TV ratings – expect that increased sponsor interest won’t be far behind). The ratings for the 500 were up 40%. Maybe others see something in IRL that Robbie (the freakin’ moron) Gordon has overlooked.

  19. Stinkbug says:

    Should this have started with “Gentlemen… start your engines!… oh.. and you too Danica..”

    She’s good. She can race.

    When men who weigh 105 lbs start racing and winning, they’ll change the rules. Until then, IRL NEEDS her to do well in order bring popularity back to the sport and get over the IRL/INDYCar racing split debacle and hopefully garner some of the NASCAR fans as well.

    In the meantime, how about the men just see this as an obstacle that they need to overcome? They’ve done it in the past when one team or another has figured out a mechanical advantage that gives them a better shot at winning. Some of the drivers could stand to drop a few pounds anyway.

    Or.. maybe.. they’re just not used to a girlie in the pits who doesn’t want to hook up with them.

    Maybe they don’t like the media attention focused on her instead of them.

    Maybe they’re more like women than they’re willing to admit..

    Stinkbug out!

  20. David S. says:

    Well I dont know if I speak for everyone, but I’ll miss Robby Gordon, haha! Give me a break!! This guy wants to say something like that and get backing from the racing world? I dont think so. She is the one putting ppl in the stands not him. She is so great for the sport and deserves everything Rahal-Letterman give her. Shes the real deal and the sport needs it. Robby should argue the fact that a Honda has more power than a Chevy or Ford now. Get real Robby and get over it. Next thing he’s gonna say is her helmet is to small and it give her better aerodynamics or something like that. Jealousy will get you know where so the best thing to do is to get on the race track and beat her heads up. So here is some cheese to go with your wine Robby and fans. Oh did forget to mention that she’s F’n HOTT!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Ruari M says:

    F1 doesn’t take the driver’s weight into account when setting the minimum weight of the vehicle. They weigh the drivers – in their full kit – so they can check the cars are legal quickly. Although that didn’t work in the recent BAR case (the CAR was underweight 5 kilos. If it had involved the driver, then Jenson Button could have zipped out and stuffed a few cheeseburgers after the race).
    All the IRL/ChampCar drivers who’ve come over to F1 of late seemed to be a bit more chunky than the average F1 pilot. Mike Andretti looked like Porky the Pig and Juan Pablo Montoya has been referred to as the Burger King.
    BTW – I weigh just over 200lbs and I couldn’t get into an IndyCar at the Cosworth factory in Northampton, England. Well, not quite.
    If Patrick is quick enough – and it seems she is – then she deserves the ride. Others can just shave a bit off their lardy asses. still takes courage, skill and loads of stamina to drive 500 miles at over 200mph. I’d like to see her win.
    PS – Seamus, et al: Jim Clark WAS British. He wasn’t English, though. He wuz robbed of at least two Indy victories, if not three. One of the greatest ever.

  22. Sithlrd says:


    Cry babies should not race, Robbie. Go back to NASCAR and let the real drivers compete without your whining. Take Tony Khanan with you. Maybe you can both cry in your beer together.

  23. Lawrence Skywinds says:

    I love to hear the Indy racer engines whine. But the sound of a whining driver is iritating. Come on Mr. Gordon. You would let a little 100-pound weakling get the best of you? Perhaps it is time to go back to your day job. Noone will miss you.

  24. Rio Randy says:

    Most of you have overlooked the fact that there is no IRL rule against Robby ‘Big-Boy’ Gordon from weighin in at 100 pounds. If you want to be fair, loose the weight and try racing again. Or better yet, let’s get her a NASCAR sponsor and let her run with the big-boys and see how she does. Perhaps Robby would need to find a new excuse if she were to perform well in the man-sport of NASCAR. Are we going to institute rules for the other sports too? How about we cut a dozen or so inches off the legs of the NBA’s Yao Ming and the new prospect Sun Ming Ming who is two inches taller than Yao. I think they have an unfair height advantage…

  25. Terces Tpek says:

    Robby, Robby, Robby……..I can’t understand why none of the other drivers were so disgusted and adamant about this “weight issue” concern as you were. Maybe because when you really get down to it, it is actually a ‘non-issue’ matter. I can’t help but believe that if the situation were one whereas your wife, girlfriend, or daughter, were the one in the spotlight, that you would not be nearly as vocal about this matter. I can say this however, that your belief that Danica has an unfair advantage over everybody has already been shot all to hell. If I am not mistaken, didn’t she come in fourth place. I think that means that there were three other drivers ahead of her. If she had “the unfair advantage” already, what was the secret advantage of the drivers who were ahead of her.
    I have had specialized training as a driver for professional reasons that an man as yourself would not understand. My experience makes it hard for me to comprehend that you know so little about the actually physical science and the laws of physics (as applied to driving) to absorb the reality that Danica’s weight or lack there of is of little if any subsequent consequence or advantage to her. There are so many factors involved with the dynamics of competetive driving that a person would have to be a moron to believe that the one factor was the most important one in determining the outcome of the race. Am I to believe that you believe that a heavy person has never won a race or that a skinny person has every lost the race. You know there is a big difference between ignorance and stupidity?
    If I were a gambling man, I would be just about willing to bet that regardless of Danica’s physical stature, that in the future, and/or whatever restrictions that they put on her (so that you could feel that all was equal and fair) that she would be willing to meet you anytime or any place to race head to head with your, lace panty, cry baby, ass. And why? Because she is a competetor…. I am an absolute idiot when it comes to the sport of car racing, but I know enough from just a little time on the computer this afternoon alone, that I was able to ascertain that your alleged concerns have very little to do with what you state them to be, but more likely a lack of self confidence, ability, or (excuse me everyone) just plain old balls to get out there and do what ever other reasonable and competitive person would do… your race you loser. I suppose that she had another advantage over you in that she could see the track better. Vision certainly becomes distorted when you are looking at things through tears.
    Now that I think about it, your attitude strikes me that your refusal to race in the future against the likes of Danica and/or others like her has nothing to do with the alleged advantage. I believe that you understand the likelihood of losing to a member of the fairer sex and that is a terrible threat to your manhood. Well shame on you for quitting for any reason, much less because a lady wants to compete.

  26. Dovetail says:

    Tire adhesion pressure: re: BigBird

    I read the comments about tire adhesion pressure and asked a friend of mine… this was his comment:

    “While tire adhesion pressures would be slightly less, you have to consider the fact that the total traction needed to keep a lighter car on the track is also less and far out weighs the adhesion pressure factor. This is why lighter cars, all things being equal, translate into better handling.”

  27. Jeff Murrey says:

    I am convinced Danica’s weight DISADVANTAGE was the cause for her spin out under yellow (less weight = less tire friction), and the elimination of 3 drivers from the Indy 500. If Danica had additional weight added to her car she would not have lost control and ruined the day for 3 other drivers.

    Was Danica’s spin under yellow in the Indy 500 due to . . .

    A. She is a female.
    B. She only weighs 100lbs.
    C. She is a rookie.
    D. She was applying make up while driving.
    E. All the above.

    Maybe the IRL should reduce the weight in all cars to equal the weight of the car with the lightest driver???

    Or maybe they could change the downforce on Danica’s car to increase drag/friction, thereby slowing her car down to equal the others with a weight advantage and prevent her from spinning out.

    Oh I’m getting confused!