I come from the world of NASCAR, so I know a good nickname for a driver when I hear one. Legends have the best ones, like Richard Petty is "The King", David Pearson is "The Silver Fox" and of course the late Dale Earnhardt, Sr. is and will always be known as "The Intimidator". Even the NASCAR racers of this age have memorable nicknames for themselves. Ryan Newman is "The Rocket". Tony Stewart is "Smoke". Greg Biffle is "The Biff". AJ Almendinger is "The Dinger". Kyle Busch is "Shrub" (my favorite and I bet he still hates it). Of course the best known is Dale Earnhardt, Jr. as "Junior" and his legion of fans are "Junior Nation".
In IndyCar the legends have theirs as well. AJ Foyt is "Super Tex", Al Unser, Sr. is "Big Al" and his son Al Jr. is "Little Al", and Johnny Rutherford is "Lonestar JR". However IndyCar drivers of today don't really have that many or are as memorable. Sure some fans have nicknames for drivers (Danica aka: "The Princess") but they aren't quite as well known or as good as the nicknames from the world of NASCAR nor do they resonate with writers and the like.
On Sunday during the ABC television broadcast of the Milwaukee 225 pit reporter Rick DeBruhl for ABC found such a nickname (and one of the best and most apt I've heard in some time) for the hard-luck and often injured/burned driver Simona De Silvestro.
"The Iron Maiden."
It all began a year ago on a Texas evening when after a crash the safety crew couldn't get the fire extinguisher to work. The result was a second degree burn to Simona's hand. (LINK)
That would not be the last time she would be burned, nor the worst.
A year later during a practice session for the Indianapolis 500 a part from the rear suspension failed and sent her helplessly into the wall. Then the car got airborne and tore the car apart and started a fire, causing more severe burns to her hands. (LINK)
Neither fire sidelined her, as she raced again the next race after the Texas fire and amazingly only missed one day of practice at Indy. After being cleared to drive at Indy she was able to qualify on the first day of Time Trials despite using an eight year old backup car with very little practice. Not only did she do that but she was able to out-qualify many top drivers and teams in the process. This earned her a legion of new fans and possibly the biggest cheers during driver introductions of the Centennial Anniversary Indianapolis 500. (LINK)
But weeks later during qualifications for the Milwaukee 225 bad luck struck again. After spinning and hitting the wall twice she was put on a stretcher and taken to the hospital where she stayed until late in the evening Saturday. It was unknown if she would be able to race on Sunday. (LINK)
She was cleared to race the next day. Even though she didn't finish she still collected full points for participating for her team.
For most drivers it would take a career to experience such accidents and injuries. Even some drivers would miss a race or two if they did. She's only been in IndyCar for a year and a half and hasn't missed a race.
"The Iron Maiden"....she is.
It is indeed a great and memorable nickname....and an all-time great heavy metal band. MY favorite heavy metal band.
Live After Death - Iron Maiden (Whole Concert)
....and yes, this is ME with Simona on Carb Day 2011 and yes I'm wearing an Iron Maiden shirt: