Even if you’re not really into the sport of racing, chances are you’ve heard of Danica Patrick. While she’s by no means the only woman to ever sit in a race car, racing is without doubt a fairly male-dominated world and when Patrick stepped onto the scene she immediately caught the public’s eye. After all, who wouldn’t want to know more about the petite brunette absolutely crushing her male opponents in race after race?
Despite the fact that most people recognize her name, not many actually know much about Danica Patrick. Sure, they know she can handle high speed racing and they know she is absolutely gorgeous thanks to her countless Super Bowl commercials with GoDaddy. However, do they know where she grew up? What her hobbies are outside of the race track? What kind of foods she likes to eat, what her family is like, or how she got her start in racing? Sure, Patrick wrote a memoir about ten years ago, but she still remains a bit of a mystery to the average sports fan.
Here at 15 things you didn’t know about Danica Patrick, the female driver blowing up the racing world with her skill and finesse behind the wheel.
15 She Absolutely Hates Popsicles
Everyone has their strange quirks when it comes to food, and athletes and celebrities get a bit more leeway regarding their preferences. After all, when you’re bringing in super-sized paychecks, the staff at any restaurant are more likely to accommodate your preferences since you’ll likely tip them handsomely for any inconvenience. There are endless tales of celebrities and pro athletes going into restaurants and ordering something that’s off the menu simply because they can. However, the dish that Patrick dislikes isn’t likely to show up on most menus – although it’ll definitely limit the options if she’s trying to grab a treat at the ice cream truck. Apparently, Patrick has a visceral dislike of popsicles and would just rather avoid them. Why would have thought? Perhaps she had a bad experience with the frozen treat when she was younger, perhaps, like Ross on Friends, it’s something to do with the cold, perhaps she just doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth. Whatever the reason, don’t serve Danica Patrick popsicles if you want to stay on her good side.
14 Her Mashed Potatoes Have a Fancy Secret Ingredient
Many athletes have very clean diets in order to keep their bodies functioning at their peak. I mean, who can forget when legendary quarterback Tom Brady revealed his typical diet full of vegetables and fruits and noticeably missing anything, well, fun. While Patrick does have to stay fit in order to perform at her best, she’s not one to shy away from certain foods, including carb-filled mashed potatoes. However, the mashed potatoes that Patrick serves up for guests isn’t just your standard plate of mashed potatoes – they have a high quality secret ingredient. No, we’re not talking about some kind of particular butter, or about adding a pint of cream from grass-fed cows. We’re talking about truffle oil, an ingredient you’re likely to find drizzled across pizza or pasta in a higher end Italian restaurant. With the inclusion of truffle oil, Patrick elevates a comfort food staple into something a little more intriguing – no wonder she calls herself a foodie!
13 She’s Super Tiny
Danica Patrick often looks quite petite in comparison to all the other drivers, because, well, the vast majority of them are men. Race car drivers don’t tend to be absolutely enormous and muscular, since they’re expected to fit into the relatively small space in the cars. However, there’s no doubt that Patrick is one of the tiniest competitors at only 5’2" and 100 pounds. In fact, there have even been other competitors that have complained that Patrick’s comparatively smaller size is an advantage since the car has less weight dragging it down. While her presence and confidence make her seem larger than life when she’s pictured individually, the moment she stands next to someone, whether it be another driver or a celebrity she’s brushing shoulders with at an event, you can immediately see how petite she is. Her size proves that you don’t necessarily have to be a genetically blessed giant to succeed in the professional sports world.
12 She is a Wine Aficionado
While there are racing fans in all shapes and sizes, there does tend to be certain stereotypes about the average racing fan – and one of them has to do with their drinks of choice. Racing gets a ton of beer sponsors because the general demographic is thought to include down to earth beer drinkers, the kinds of individuals who are happiest to crack open a can of the cold stuff while they’re watching the game. However, while Patrick is definitely down to earth, her drink of choice doesn’t come in a can – she’s a wine aficionado. And we’re not just talking about someone who will order the expensive stuff when she’s out at dinner at a nice restaurant. Patrick apparently has her own wine cellar in her Phoenix home – something that only serious wine drinkers would put into their homes. So, if you ever find yourself with questions about the difference between a pinot grigio and a sauvignon blanc, Patrick can likely help you out.
11 She’s Been on the Cover of Sports Illustrated Twice (but not in a Swimsuit)
It’s a bit sexist, but there’s really no way around it – many female athletes snag magazine spreads or covers thanks to the fact that they look smoking hot in a teeny bikini. Sure, there are many athlete covers where they’re portrayed as strong professionals, fully clothed and exuding confidence. However, there are far more spreads of female athletes who are scantily clad than their male competitors. That doesn’t mean that the only way to score a cover is to strip down, though – just ask Danica Patrick. The driver has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated twice, a magazine known for its legendary swimsuit issue filled with bikini-clad bombshells. However, both times, she’s been dressed in her racing gear – not her beach wear. While she has appeared in photographs that show off her physique, her cover shots prove that female athletes don’t necessarily need to strip down to their bathing suits or underwear to score major magazine coverage.
10 She Moved to England at 16
Professional sports are a young man’s game, plain and simple. While athletes who take care of their bodies and painstakingly maintain their physique so that they can perform at the highest level can definitely extend their careers, most athletes don’t last more than twenty or at the maximum thirty years in the sports world (with a few exceptions, such as golfers). Considering their relatively short careers, it only makes sense that many athletes opt to start their careers as soon as possible so they can capitalize on their peak years – and Danica Patrick is no different. While many other athletes have to go to college for a few years to show off their stuff to scouts before eventually getting drafted for a major team, Patrick didn’t even choose to finish off high school. While she later got her GED, she dropped out to pursue racing and, at only 16 years of age, moved from the United States to Milton Keynes, England to train for the racing world.
9 She’s a Music Video Veteran
Many professional athletes try to lead lives that wouldn’t be out of place in the world of a lavish music video, but they’re generally not exactly the stars. However, Danica Patrick is no stranger to the set of music videos, given that she’s starred in three to date. The first is, surprisingly, Jay Z’s video for “Show Me What You Got,” where she stars as a driver zipping around the streets of Monaco alongside Dale Earnhardt Jr. Then, in an entirely different genre, she was tapped by country cutie Miranda Lambert to co-star as her partner in crime in the video for “Fastest Girl in Town,” where she plays – what else – a getaway driver. And, finally, she remained in the country music world by appearing in Colt Ford’s video for “Drivin’ Around Song” alongside fellow racer Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Apparently, if you need someone who looks fantastic on camera but can handle driving like an expert on screen, Patrick is one of the first ones you go to.
8 She was Breaking Records from the Beginning
While many professional athletes start their careers by breaking records at a very early age in their little league books, you can’t exactly hop into a full sized race car and shatter records when you’re still a child. However, Patrick showed her skill at driving at a very early age. Before she ever got into a race car, Danica Patrick was all about go-karts – she and her sister would go to the Sugar River Raceway in Brodhead, Wisconsin, and put the pedal to the metal. While her sister wasn’t the biggest fan, Danica felt right at home in the go-kart from the minute her parents gave it to her. She sat in her first go-kart at ten years old, the year that her parents gifted her a go-kart and at ten years old she broke the go-karting track record at the Sugar River Raceway. It may seem like a relatively minor accomplishment, but it’s a great foreshadowing of her countless wins and record-breaking in the future.
7 She was a Cheerleader in High School
Many celebrities and actresses performed in front of bleachers full of people as high school cheerleaders and Danica Patrick was no different. Before she was tearing up the race tracks as one of the best women in the racing world, Patrick was slipping into her uniform and tying up her brunette locks into a perky ponytail as a cheerleader at Hononegah Community High School in Rockton, Illinois. We’re not exactly sure how cheer skills could be transferred to the racing world, but hey – why not have a little fun in your high school years? We’re betting that Patrick would make an ideal flyer for the team, given her small size and we’re also betting that she rocked whatever routines she was a part of. She found her calling at around that age, as she began to pursue racing more seriously at only 16 and we’re betting she was a better driver than any of the male athletes she was cheering on.
6 She Loves Football – and Her Favourite Team May Surprise You
Given that Patrick was born in Wisconsin, you might assume that she grew up a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan, like most celebrities born in that state. However, when it comes to rooting on her favourite sports team, Patrick is all about Illinois – she’s a Chicago Bears fan. Of all the sports (besides, of course, racing), football is Patrick’s favourite, and of all the teams, she bleeds orange for the Chicago Bears. Next time you’re watching a Bears game, check the bleachers to see if you can spot a tiny brunette rocking her team’s colours and rooting on her favourite players. And, although she never went to college, she can appreciate a good ol’ college rivalry in the football world – she’s been spotted taking in Ole Miss games alongside her boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr. That’s right – she can handle a car like a pro and she also knows enough about football to carry on a conversation during the big game. What’s there not to love about Danica Patrick?
5 She’s a Commercial Queen
Athletes these days have their own brands, and manage to score endless partnerships and promotional gigs to supplement their already generous pro athlete paychecks. From automobile brands to sweet confections, athletes put their names and star power behind a lot of things – and Danica Patrick gets more calls than anyone. While the average race car driver may not have as much name recognition as a star football or basketball player, when you’re a gorgeous female powerhouse in a relatively male dominated world, you get a ton of attention, as Danica Patrick knows. She has appeared in commercials for Secret deodorant (eventually being replaced by none other than pop superstar Rihanna), as well as for the Honda Civic Coupe. However, the most notorious commercials come from her years being sponsored by GoDaddy, where she’s done everything from step into the shower to run down the road in a strange muscle suit.
4 She Loves Alanis Morissette
It can be tough to figure out the kind of music that most pro athletes love to listen to. After all, they generally only blast their own tunes when they’re working out with the team or at home, or they do it while rocking headphones so their listening choices aren’t up front and center. However, it can be interesting to find out what kind of music gets athletes all pumped up – and in Danica Patrick’s case, it’s all about Alanis Morissette. Patrick apparently absolutely loves the indie singer-songwriter, and listens to her all the time while working out – and we’re betting Alanis Morissette wouldn’t exactly be the first artist you think to add to your pump up playlist. Although, come to think of it, the moment when “Ironic” goes to the chorus is a pretty good pump up moment. Now, the question is, will Danica Patrick ever become BFFs with Morissette, like Drake has become BFFs with countless basketball players?
3 She Keeps her Family Close
When you go from a regular person to a rising superstar in the professional sports world at a relatively young age, it can be tough to figure out who to trust and who to surround yourself with. That’s how many professional athletes end up going broke so quickly or making poor business decisions – they hire people they can’t trust and end up getting taken advantage of. When it came to assembling her ideal team, Patrick decided to keep things in the family by hiring people she knew she could trust – her parents. Her father, T.J., drives Patrick’s motor coach and also keeps the Danica Patrick brand strong by managing her website and merchandise trailer. Her mother, Bev, supports her daughter by making sure all her business affairs are in order so that the only thing Patrick herself really needs to worry about is racing. Hey, if you’re going to trust someone, who better than the individuals who bought you your very first go-kart and got you started on your racing career?
2 Cars are in her Blood
While Danica Patrick may be the first in her family to compete on an international level in the racing world, she’s definitely not the only member of the Patrick family to be interested in high speed racing. Her father was a snowmobile, motocross and midget car racer who was bitten by the need for speed, and her mother was a snowmobile mechanic known as “Captain Traction.” So, if Patrick ever had questions about high speed hijinx or needed someone to give her some advice on how to keep her car traction high, she didn’t need to look too far from home for her answers. Although, admittedly, the need for speed might skip a generation – apparently Patrick’s sister, who also tried go-karts when she was a child, was discouraged from racing around a track after she crashed her go-kart several times. Hey, it’s not for everyone. Perhaps when she retires from the racing world Patrick will become the new Captain Traction, coaching other drivers to help them perform their best on the track.
1 She’s a Foodie
Most pro athletes can easily afford to hire a personal chef to do all their cooking for them – after all, they’re busy and have training regimes that require a big time commitment. However, Patrick isn’t about to be kicked out of her own kitchen. The self-confessed foodie has honed her skills in the kitchen by taking classes at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, California. And, if that weren’t enough, she has also appeared on the Food Network show Chopped alongside other pro athletes including Tiki Barber and Natalie Coughlin – and she won! So, if you’re ever invited to dinner at the Patrick household, we’re betting you’re probably going to get a delicious meal – who knows, maybe she’ll even make you her famous truffle oil mashed potatoes! Once she retires from the racing world, Patrick should explore her foodie side – goodness knows she can definitely take the heat in the kitchen after hurtling down the race track at top speed for years on end.