Drive and determination keep Danica Patrick focused on and off the racetrack
Danica Patrick is a world-class professional racecar driver who has been a trailblazer in the motorsports industry. However, as a 10-year-old girl, Danica simply never wanted to miss out on anything. So when her younger sister, Brooke, wanted to go race go-karts, she went along too. Her sister stopped racing within the year, yet Patrick discovered a lifelong passion and career and continues racing at the top of her game.
Patrick’s accomplishments range from winning amateur go-kart championships to a victory in the 2008 Indy Japan 300 and a third-place finish in the 2009 Indianapolis 500. Now, she’s a top contender in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.
While Patrick’s physical presence is petite, her spirit, will and determination are big. She competes in a male-dominated sport — very few women have ever competed in the top circuits — yet that’s not the perception she embraces.
“I don’t look at myself as being any different,” Patrick says. “I never wanted to be the best female racecar driver; I wanted to be the best racecar driver I could be.”
Patrick focuses on what she can or should do and not what others are doing. It’s this inner drive and focus that pushes her forward, and she encourages others to do the same.
“Dream big and work hard to be the best that you can be!” Patrick says. “Surround yourself with people who believe in you and support you.”
One of Patrick’s early supporters was racing legend Bobby Rahal. He watched her evolve as an up-and-coming teenage driver and hired her for the 2005 Indy Racing League (IRL) season. In 2008, she became the first woman in history to win an Indy race, yet her drive for success only grew. Following the 2011 IRL season, Patrick made a full-time transition from IndyCars to NASCAR, becoming the first female to race professionally in both circuits.
“I’m excited to see how far I can go and what I can accomplish in the sport,” Patrick says. “This is only my third full season in the Sprint Cup Series, so I still have a lot to learn. But, I feel like I’ve made a lot of gains over the last year with the help of my team.”
A state of calm in the fast lane
Dangerous crashes are part of this fast-paced sport, and drivers must be prepared to act and react in an instant. Physical and mental preparation are year-long endeavors to help drivers endure stress and recover quickly.
“I don’t ever stop training,” Patrick says. “I might take it easy for a week or two in the offseason around the holidays, but I really enjoy working out and miss it if it’s not in my schedule. Weight training for strength is important. It’s about functional movement to ensure my body is able to manage the forces I am under when I’m on the track.
“I try to fit in as much yoga as I can to keep my mind focused and my body flexible,” Patrick says. “I recently turned one of our spare rooms into a yoga room, so now I have a place all set up to practice.”
Patrick also discovers joy in cooking and hopes to someday author her own cookbook.
“I cook a lot!” Patrick says. “I enjoy taking recipes and putting my own healthy spin on them. Before a race I eat some sort of protein — usually chicken or salmon or a 100-percent plant-based protein, and I also have a complex carb — potatoes or rice — to give me extra energy.”
Living life in fast-forward
In addition to a career in racing, Patrick has also modeled, acted, made guest appearances in music videos and penned an autobiography. To say her life is busy is somewhat of an understatement.
“While the fire suit I wear every day isn’t very glamorous, I love getting dressed up and having my hair and makeup done for off-track events,” Patrick says. “If I wasn’t racing, I’d love to get into fashion and design my own clothing line, shoes, bags, etc. I’ve been fortunate to walk the red carpet at some amazing events.”
While she enjoys the fast pace, Patrick also acknowledges the importance of rest.
“Having down time is important to me,” she says. “I like to spend time with family and friends whenever I can, so we always try to plan a few trips whenever we have some time off.”
Patrick counts herself lucky to have great people and sponsors who are dedicated to supporting her and helping her succeed both on the track and off.
“It can be tough, but it’s also very rewarding,” she notes. “I’m my biggest critic, and I always want to do better, but at the end of the day, I have to remember that there are very few of us in the world that get to make a living being a professional racecar driver.”
While working in a world focused on acceleration, Patrick embraces a simpler, slower philosophy that life is what you make of it.
“It’s important to be true to yourself and make the most of every day,” Patrick says. “I try to keep myself grounded and am grateful for the success and friends I have in my life. If you appreciate the little things in life, then the big events are a bonus!”
Danica loves a great smoothie and shared this healthy treat with us!
Make it yourself – Chocolate protein smoothie
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
1/2 frozen banana, peeled and chopped
1 Scoop chocolate plant-based protein
1 1/2 Tbsp. flax seed
1 tsp. honey
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1. In a blender, blend the milk, yogurt, banana, protein supplement, flax seed, honey and strawberries until smooth. BE SURE TO accent the finished drink with a strawberry and a banana piece.
Can’t get enough? Check out 5 on striving for success with Danica Patrick!
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Jodi Marsh is Executive Editor for Healthy Living Made Simple.