Calling a racing driver “driven” may appear to be a bad play on words, but the only other accurate description of Danica Patrick, at least as far as one could tell from her interview at the Cayman Alternative Investment Forum last week, would be the title of her latest book, a 90-day workout and nutrition plan: “Pretty Intense.”
In the hour-long chat with Business Insider journalist Linette Lopez, Ms. Patrick did little to dispel the perception that she is, in her own words, anything other than “confident,” “direct” and “unafraid of confrontation.” She describes herself as someone who “says what she wants.”
This, she noted, has always been her attitude and she knows no other way. Yet it seems that leaving high school and moving alone to England at age 16 to become a racing driver also played a role.
Like other people who go to college during this period, it was a phase for her to learn mainly about life. Society taught her the lesson that “people will take advantage of you if they can,” be it financially or emotionally, she said.
This meant that in contrast to the wide-eyed, naive girl who left for England, she was less open when she returned and the experience left her a bit cold. It also strengthened her resolve.
“I moved from ‘I want to be a racing driver’ to ‘I better make this work,’” she said.
Asked how she knew that she was good enough to be a racing driver at that young age, she was deadpan: “I won. A lot.”
However, there is not much love lost between her and racing.
Ms. Patrick, a household name in U.S. sports, announced her retirement from racing last year, although she will still participate in her last two races, the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500, this year.
The retirement decision left her agonized, partly because she is a big proponent of trying harder when things do not go the right way. It took her a while to determine whether she was quitting or letting go.
“There is a big difference,” she said.
Ultimately, it is all about winning and the decision came down to either “finishing better” or “not wanting to do it anymore.”
There is no question that she will sever her ties with racing in the future. She made clear there will be no mentoring of junior drivers or watching races for pleasure, simply because speeding at 200 mph around a track for hours on end each weekend is “not fun” for her.
Ms. Patrick said her father loved racing much more than she did. Telling him about this took a long time and caused emotional heartache. When she eventually confessed that she “did not love racing,” her father responded that he had known all along and she was simply very good at it and needed a job.
Her passions lie elsewhere.
“If you think I am a good racing driver, you should see me work out and cook,” she exclaimed, as if it were another competition.
Ms. Patrick conceived all the recipes in her latest nutrition book and, perhaps surprisingly, she revealed her dream is to have her own TV cooking show.
Given that, in addition to a book, she has her own clothing line, Warrior, and is featured in 14 Super Bowl commercials – more than any other celebrity – one would be ill-advised to bet against it.
Ms. Patrick’s recipe for success is simple: mental strength and positivity. Repeating one of her favorite mantras, she said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
Another business venture Ms. Patrick has embarked on is a Napa Valley property that she
has turned into a vineyard. Her first wine, a vintage 2014, will be followed by a variety of wines coming out this year. But she emphasized that although it is a “fun project,” the vineyard is purely an investment.
“I am not going to lie, I have a lot of money,” she quipped, but generally, Ms. Patrick said she spends money on vacations rather than extravagant purchases.
Her first splurge after getting a big paycheck was a ring with her birthstone and a holiday to Bora Bora.
“If I had had a boyfriend, I would have taken him, but I didn’t, so I took my sister,” she said.
Her first car was a BMW 645, powerful and well-engineered but also somewhat ordinary. Later, she test drove an Austin Martin Vantage.
“It kind of sucked, so I bought a Lamborghini,” she said, which coming from the racing driver was more of a practical and matter-of-fact comment than an ostentatious one.
One way for her to maintain her focus is to write down monthly goals, she said. Her latest one: “Creating a 100-point wine” – the highest possible rating.