Fascinating Things About Racing Star Danica Patrick

Athletes | 5/19/21

Danica Patrick is known for being the most successful woman in open-wheel racing. She has set numerous records for female Indy Car drivers and NASCAR racers. Patrick’s media presence has made her a star off the track, as well. From her music video appearances to her clothing line and books, these are things you may not have known about the racing star.

She’s The Most Successful Woman In Indy Car Racing

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Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Danica Patrick’s many records make her the most successful woman in Indy car racing. In 2008, she became the first woman to win an IndyCar series race. She is among a handful of women who have even competed in the race.

Patrick holds the record for having the highest starting and finishing place of any woman. She also has done more laps than any other woman in both a single race and in her career.

She Gets Her Racing Genes From Both Parents

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Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Danica Patrick’s parents have perhaps the most quintessential love story in racing history. Her mom was a snowmobile mechanic who was known as “Captain Traction” and her father was a racing champion. They met on a blind date at a snowmobile event.

Racing was a major part of Patrick’s life, as she would attend her father’s snowmobile races. Later on, he would act as her crew chief and Patrick’s mother would keep track of her statistics.

She Left School At The Age Of 16

Robert Mora/Getty Images
Robert Mora/Getty Images

Danica Patrick knew what she wanted at an early age, and she wasn’t afraid to make some major sacrifices to get it. One of those things was her high school diploma, which she abandoned at the age of 16.

Instead, Patrick got her GED and took off to England where she lived on her own and pursued racing. It was there that she became the best-placing American to ever compete at the 2000 Formula Ford Festival.

Racing Got Her Kicked Off The Cheerleading Squad

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Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

While Danica Patrick was attending Hononegah Community High School, she decided to join the cheer squad. The school was located in a small town and had graduating classes of around 40 students, so all students were encouraged to participate in extra-curriculars.

Though Patrick enjoyed cheer, racing was a higher priority. She missed a football game to attend a go-cart race in France, causing her to be kicked off the team. Looking back, it seems she made the right choice.

She’s A NASCAR Record Holder

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Nick Laham/Getty Images
Nick Laham/Getty Images

In 2015, Danica Patrick broke the record for the most top-ten finishes by a woman in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series just three years after she began racing in the series.

The previous record-holder was Janet Guthrie, the first female driver to qualify and to compete in the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500. Patrick also became the second woman to garner a pole position in the Nationwide Series. The first was Shawna Robinson in 1994.

She’s Appeared In Numerous Television Shows

Danica Patrick isn’t just talented on the racetrack. She’s also a natural in front of the camera, which is why she’s appeared in so many television shows! While she predominantly plays herself on television, she did land the role of Liza Gray on CSI: NY.

Patrick’s character was a racecar driver who was suspected of rigging her competitor’s car. She also played a driving instructor in the 2019 film Charlie’s Angels and has voiced characters in two children’s animated series!

She Has Starred In Music Videos

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RCA Nashville
RCA Nashville

Danica Patrick is a major public figure, so it’s no wonder that some of today’s most popular music artists have recruited her to be in their videos. She and fellow racecar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. starred in Jay-Z’s music video for “Show Me What You Got.”

Patrick was also a getaway driver in Miranda Lambert’s music video for “Fastest Girl in Town.” In 2018, she made a cameo appearance in the music video for “Girls Like You” by Maroon 5.

Maturity Has Helped With Her Temper

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Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Like many passionate athletes, Danica Patrick has sometimes expressed her anger on the racetrack. Her temper was noticeable enough to get the attention of commentators and journalists, who cautioned that such outbursts don’t behoove the racecar role model.

Patrick admitted to ESPN magazine that her temper has been a challenge. However, she credits maturity with enabling her to stay calm and “bite her tongue.” She noted that not caring what people think of her can cause “clean up work” that could be avoided.

She Was Named The 2006 Sportswoman Of The Year

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Al Pereira/Getty Images
Al Pereira/Getty Images

2006 was a big year for Danica Patrick in terms of recognition. After a stunning rookie year, the March of Dimes named Patrick their Sportswoman of the Year. President Franklin D. Roosevelt founded the nonprofit in 1938 to help improve the health of mothers and babies.

It isn’t surprising that Patrick stood out to the organization considering that she was one of six rookies at the 2005 Indy 500, and still she garnered the Rookie of the Year title.

She Has An $80 Million Net Worth

A significant part of being a successful racecar driver is garnering sponsorship deals, which largely rely on being in the public eye. Since Danica Patrick is so well-known, she’s landed numerous marketing gigs, which then make her even more famous.

Racecar driver Kyle Petty once called Patrick a “marketing machine.” While some of her commercials and ads have been met with a skeptical eye, there’s no doubt they’ve helped her financially. Patrick has an estimated net worth of $80 million!

Her Fans Are Called The “Danica Maniacs”

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Michael Chang/Getty Images
Michael Chang/Getty Images

Danica Patrick is so well-known that she was named IndyCar’s most popular driver in six of her seasons! Her fame has also helped her become the record-holder for the celebrity with the most Super Bowl commercials (ten).

Patrick owes a lot of her success to her fans, since being in the limelight brings marketing and sponsorship opportunities. That’s why she launched her own fan club in 2007, which gave her fans the nickname “Danica Maniacs.”

She Has Published Two Books

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

In 2006, Danica Patrick published an autobiography titled Crossing The Line. The book looks at her life up to that point, sharing stories from her past and her perspective on standing out.

A decade later, Patrick published her second book, Pretty Intense: The 90-Day Mind, Body and Food Plan That Will Absolutely Change Your Life. As the title implies, the book includes a diet plan, workouts, and mental health advice based on what has worked for Patrick.

The Number 10 Holds A Special Meaning To Her

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Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

According to ESPN, Danica Patrick chose the number 10 for her Stewart Haas Racing Sprint Cup for a particular reason: she was age 10 when she began go-karting. Before that, Patrick wasn’t even interested in racing!

As a small child, the future racing star thought she would be a secretary, a singer, or a veterinarian. Patrick changed her mind after seeing her younger sister drive a friend’s go-kart. Her parents bought both sisters a go-kart, and it was off to the races (literally) from there.

She Was Female Athlete Of The Year In 2006

The 2017 ESPYS - Show
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

In 2005, Danica Patrick matched Tomas Scheckter’s record of poles in a rookie season with three pole positions. The achievement made her Rookie of the Year in the Indy 500 and IndyCar Series.

The following year, Patrick’s stellar rookie season earned her the Female Athlete of the Year title. She received the honor from the US Sports Academy, a nonprofit organization that has been helping young sports professionals, like Patrick, find work since the 1970s.

She Appeared On The Cover Of Sports Illustrated

Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

In 2008, Danica Patrick appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. She was the first IndyCar driver to do so since Al Unser did back in 1987! She also appeared in the magazine’s swimsuit editions in 2008 and 2009, further solidifying her role as a public figure.

Patrick’s magazine appearances may have helped her fashion-related business ventures. She went on to partner with G-III Apparel Group to create her own athleisure collection, “Warrior by Danica Patrick.”

She Won A Lawsuit Against Nature’s Bakery

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Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for Stewart-Haas Racing
Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images

Danica Patrick and her team filed a lawsuit against Nature’s Bakery for pulling out of their sponsorship two years before the contract ended. The company claimed that they did so because Patrick had signed with a rival sponsor.

It turns out that the sponsor they were worried about was Six Star Pro Nutrition Protein Powder. Since Nature’s Bakery produces bars and brownies, their argument didn’t exactly hold up. Patrick’s team ended up settling for $31 million!

She Has Dated Fellow Athletes

Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

In 2002, Danica Patrick started working with physical therapist Paul Edward Hospenthal to recover from a hip injury. The pair married in 2005 and divorced eight years later. A year before the divorce, Patrick started a relationship with fellow NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

In 2012, Patrick met Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at an ESPY event. Though they dated other people for years after meeting, Patrick and Rodgers ended up together from 2018 to 2020.

She Signed To David Letterman’s Auto Racing Team

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CBS
CBS

Three years after moving to the UK to pursue racing, Danica Patrick returned to the states in 2001. The next year, she competed in five Barber Dodge Pro Series races for Rahal Letterman Racing.

Talk show host David Letterman has had partial ownership of the team since 1996, as he is a petrolhead and longtime friend of retired racer Bobby Rahal. It was Rahal Letterman Racing who named Patrick to their IndyCar Series roster for 2005.

The Onion Wrote An Article About Her

Rich Fury/WireImage/Getty Images
Rich Fury/WireImage/Getty Images

They say that no publicity is bad publicity, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to articles devoted to you. When The Onion decided to satirically “praise” Danica Patrick, it at least solidified her standing as a celebrity.

The article downplayed Patrick’s success by stating that she “has once more shown that no challenge is too great for a young, gorgeous female.” Considering how few women have done what she has, Patrick’s praise is still well warranted.

Concussions Played Into Her Decision To Retire

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Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Danica Patrick competed at the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500 in 2018 before officially retiring. She has stated that concussions were a part of her desire to retire. The racecar driver told ESPN that she’s had about a dozen concussions over the course of her career.

Patrick added that her doctors have warned her about the potential ramifications that might ensue if she were to get another one. Since car crashes are a part of the sport, it’s better safe than sorry.