Danica Patrick retired from her career as a race car driver following the 2018 Indianapolis 500. The highest-finishing woman in Indianapolis 500 (third) and Daytona 500 (eighth) history and the only woman to win a pole for a NASCAR Cup Series race has transitioned to life as a businesswoman, as she owns a winery (Somnium), a fashion line (Warrior by Danica Patrick) and has written a book ("Pretty Intense") that focuses on workouts and recipes to promote mental and physical health.
She will be the featured speaker Monday at the ninth annual espnW: Women + Sports Summit, where Hannah Storm, executive producer of the 2017 documentary "Danica," will interview her.
We caught up with Patrick to talk a little bit about life after racing and whether it was an easy transition for someone who grew up a Chicago Bears fan to now cheer for the Green Bay Packers, the team quarterbacked by her boyfriend, Aaron Rodgers.
espnW: Is life much different than it was in March when you weren't racing between the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500?
Danica Patrick: Yeah it is because back then I was taking more trips and Aaron had a lot more time off so now is kind of like more routine. I have my routine in Green Bay and my friends at the gym and the time that I go. I actually broke it today [Sept. 24] -- I slept in with him because they had a game yesterday so they don't have to start until a little later on Monday, so I actually slept until 8:30, which is really saying something for me. It's a little bit later than normal. It's a little bit more routine right now, which is fine. I actually was looking forward to having a little bit more of a routine. But I will say after the first few weeks, I just got stir crazy and feeling like I wasn't accomplishing much in my life. I said I was ready to get bored because it will make me motivated to do something, and that's exactly what happened. We started moving forward on projects a little faster and making more meeting times and planning more trips to spread the social network in the other businesses that I have. It's about to get a little bit busier for the next few weeks. I have a trip this [last] week, I'm gone all next [this] week, I'm gone almost all the next week after that and then it's the bye week, so I'll be gone again. The next month is going to be pretty busy.
espnW: When you talk about a routine, are you working out, are you on the phone, sending emails?
espnW: Are you binge-watching something on Netflix? What's the routine?
Patrick: I worked out really, really hard a couple of weeks ago. Every day did a lifting. I was basically was super exhausted and I felt like I was maybe getting sick. So I sat down on the couch after going to the gym in the morning, and I just laid there for the entire day and watched the entire first season of "The Sinner." I've never, ever done that before. I never sat down and watched a season of anything, let alone just like sitting on the couch. I've never done that. That was a little bit more of a result of my body being exhausted and feeling like I should just sit around for a little while and relax and recover. But I'm not very good at sitting around. For me, when I'm at home, I turn music on. I watch a little bit of news in the morning. I go to the gym every morning, come back, have lunch, have something to eat. I have grocery store runs, shipping things, signing things, calls, meetings, interviews. GoDaddy is doing the "Pretty Intense" program in-house within GoDaddy so I go online and talk to those people on the forum and then I do live, kind-of-like Skype calls, but they're using this different program. I'll do hour-long calls to talk to people. It's definitely not super regimented all day, every day. I love to go walk my dogs. I'll go out and walk the dogs for an hour or two. And I'll make dinner and cook. Days go by.
espnW: Are there any new projects that you can talk about or are you mostly working on the winery, the fashion line and the "Pretty Intense" stuff?
Patrick: There are some other things that we have come across and are interesting. Maybe they will move forward, maybe they won't. But at this point in time, it's only been a few months, so it was always the plan to buckle down on the companies that I have and see what I need to do next to make them grow.
espnW: Do you have any athletic or fitness feats that you've accomplished the last few months that you're proud of or working toward?
Patrick: With my diligence, persistence, consistency and new weightlifting program that I started about 3 [to] 3-and-a-half months ago, I actually am getting stronger. I'm stronger than I've ever been. I don't think that was necessarily a goal of mine, but it happened. I would say fitness-wise, that was the new thing that I started was an actual, legitimate, strength-training program as opposed to just throwing weights around and CrossFit, which I still do.
espnW: Do you need new clothes? Are you so bulked up?
Patrick: No. God no. The plan was to actually de-bulk the upper body and maybe grow an ass.
espnW: Is there anything you've been able to do this summer that you haven't been able to do in the past that you have particularly enjoyed?
Patrick: Anything on the weekends. Saturday workouts at CrossFit gyms are always fun because it's a big group. The gym I go to, there is 50-60 at least people there. It's fun. There's just a lot of people, good energy. I always really loved that, and I was always bummed I could never go to those [when I was racing]. I've gone to a farmers market a couple of times, which is really nice. Having a Sunday, having legitimate weekends be my weekend is kind of nice. Saturday workouts and farmers markets. My sister and I are going to take a CrossFit certification class called an L1 [Level 1], and they are only on the weekends. I would have never had a chance to do that. It's a Saturday-Sunday. We're going to get to go do that. Go to football games.
espnW: When you are at these things, do you wear a baseball cap on your head so people don't recognize you, or are you getting recognized a lot and not minding it, or are you able to just blend in and people don't know that you're there?
Patrick: I don't hide. People notice me, yes. Some people say something, yes. Some people say dumb things and I say really smart-ass things back to them and then other people are really nice. I think that people are generally probably scared to say something more than anything. How do I say it nicely about myself? I don't think I put off the come-say-hi-to-me-everybody look.
espnW: Finally, what is it like rooting for the Green Bay Packers?
Patrick: Good. It's fun. The first game of the year was obviously an absolute historic, amazing game and I'm sure one of Aaron's top games in his head to come back from what they did in the first half and to win on top of being hurt. It's fun. The fun thing about them as a team is you just know they've got it in them, no matter what point in the game it is or what the score is or what the season is looking like -- you always feel encouraged to cheer for them as a team. Aaron is a great leader and obviously an incredible player and he's got some good guys behind him.
espnW: I guess maybe I should rephrase that: What's it like for somebody who was used to rooting for the Chicago Bears to root for the Green Bay Packers?
Patrick: The Packers obviously played at noon [on Sept. 23] and then afterward, the Bears-Cardinals game was on and they were playing at Phoenix and I'm like, "Oh, I have houses in both of those cities" [in Chicago and Phoenix]. It was the first time, I felt like I really was like, "Don't win, don't win" and then they did. The Bears are having a great start to the year actually. I'm very comfortable with the transition. Anyone that wonders why I don't cheer for the Bears, it's not like it's an in-house rivalry of like, "Oh, you cheer for this team, I cheer for that team." It's like, "No, you play for that team." I can never understand when people are like, "Why don't you cheer for the Bears still anymore?" I'm like, "Well for obvious reasons." Usually with a sports teams or an athlete, whatever it may be, a driver, usually you need to have a reason, right? Maybe it's because you're from the city. Or maybe it's because you're dating one.