INDIANAPOLIS -- Between practice sessions of the Indianapolis 500, the last race of her career, Danica Patrick rushed into a room and spoke to a group of female high school students.
The moderator asked about people not believing in her. And Patrick spoke from the heart on people doubting whether she would make it in racing, the career she committed to pursue when she moved to Europe at age 16.
"I wouldn't say that I ever had people tell me I can never do this, but ... you can feel when people don't believe in you," she told them. "And to be honest, there were times I didn't think so, either. That's just the reality of it. We are all human.
"There were times where I lacked confidence and I doubted myself. You have to find ways to cope with that and to gain empowerment and confidence and know what you want and be absolutely determined to get there."
Patrick might have that feeling as she embarks on her post-racing life, a life that begins Monday following the Indianapolis 500 when she adds "former" to her profession as "race car driver."
She will concentrate on her business projects: her Somnium winery, her Warrior clothing line and her "Pretty Intense" physical and mental health/wellness book. She wants her clothing line to branch out into a way for her to do more charitable efforts. She wants her wine and its story -- somnium is Latin for "dream" -- of taking several years to come to fruition to inspire people.
Because of her success in auto racing, she feels a little more confident about her ability to transition into a successful businesswoman. Of course, the pressure might not rank with having to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, yet she will dream that her life story includes recognition for a new career she embarked on at age 36.
Then again, if she doesn't attract the recognition and the spotlight, she swears she can accept a life without people wanting photos.
"My ego is going to have to cope with the new, less, just not being the center of attention as often," Patrick said. "That will be the ego shot. I acknowledge that.
"But I also understand that it's also fake. That is not going to make me happy. ... I've never had to have the spotlight. I'm OK with that. I don't care if someone doesn't know who I am. I really don't."
Patrick has no plans to return to a racetrack. Expect her to live retirement as one of those drivers who pretty much stays off the racing circuit.
"None of my other businesses are linked with racing, necessarily, other than it being me and that's what I did, and that's what has given me everything I have, from awareness to the houses I own and the life I get to live," Patrick said.
"I don't know what will happen in the future. I'm sure I'll be back at racetracks. How often? I really don't know. At this point in time, there is not a plan for that, but I didn't really plan for this [retirement] not that long ago, either."
For someone who has invested 31 years of her life into racing, Patrick doesn't need to hang out at a racetrack for fun. She'll want to see friends, but she won't need to go for any sort of acceptance or feeling of normalcy.
For the past five months, she has focused on two races: the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500. She has spent time on her business ventures and having, well, a life.
"It's been nice," Patrick said. "And I haven't missed anything. I haven't missed racing. I haven't missed being in the car. So far, so good."
That likely contributes to her attitude about any future involving racing. While she likely will continue to speak at engagements, she won't try to personally guide inspiring racers despite the prevailing questions of whether she could see herself as a mentor and a coach.
Patrick has a simple answer: She does not.
"It's not something I'm interested in, because there are some people that teach and some people that do," Patrick said. "I'm much more a doer with anything I do.
"I like to just do things. I'm not into the homework side of stuff."
Her influence -- she said -- will come from her story.
"I hope that I'm a positive influence on [girls] and they know they can do anything that they love and want to do -- and truly believe that in their heart for all the right reasons, and find what it is what is unique and different about you and run with it," Patrick said.
Whether it bothers Patrick that people expect her to mentor female racers because so few women compete in top-level racing (and few men ever get asked a similar question), Patrick deflects it: "I'm flattered that people think I have something to teach someone. I'll take it as a compliment."
Lyn St. James competed in seven Indy 500s from 1992 to 2000, the first coming in her final year of a three-year term serving as president of the Women's Sports Foundation.
St. James grew up in a time when Title IX and women's sports attracted considerable focus. It resonated with St. James, who has spent her life trying to help women get into racing.
She believes that if Patrick doesn't have the passion to mentor, then she shouldn't feel forced.
"We shouldn't judge her that because she was this iconic brand, represented a gender, that she then has got the responsibility. It would be nice if she did, but it doesn't mean that she should, and she shouldn't be dinged for not," St. James said.
That doesn't mean Patrick won't have a legacy or an influence as she transitions to a life after racing.
"By living her life in a genuine, authentic, successful way -- and people can evaluate what they consider success or not -- then that's her legacy," St. James said.
Patrick's successes include winning an IndyCar race, earning the highest finish for a woman in the Indianapolis 500 (third, 2009) and Daytona 500 (eighth, 2013) and being the only woman ever to win a pole in the NASCAR Cup Series. She certainly wanted more, but she seems content that she has given it her best.
She appears ready to move on, and she wants her legacy to focus on that success -- and potentially to build on it. She hopes the lessons learned in racing will help her transition.
"You think to yourself, 'I hope that you get with the right person and have the right reach and distribution and marketing and all those other kinds of things'; you definitely have those thoughts of, 'I hope it goes right,'" Patrick said.
"But I would say, given this platform I have now, I feel like, of course, there's more of a chance of [those businesses] making it than in the beginning when I was a nobody in racing just hoping to make it. Racing is the thing that is also making these other things go."
She admits she wants more time for herself. Her current life has seemed to have 10 to 14 days on the road followed by a handful of days at home. She doesn't plan on flying everywhere and playing owner to various companies into her 80s and having her day-to-day life buried in the minutiae of her businesses.
"It's going to be about being hands-on and hiring the right people in place to run them correctly," Patrick said.
"It's impossible for me to think I can run them completely [by] myself. That's not going to happen. The best thing you can do as a boss is hire empowered people, give them great jobs so they have a great lifestyle and have a great life and something they love to do and let them run with it."
She hopes she can hire people with the passion she has, people who will try to follow what she preaches to girls who want to follow her.
"You have to find what it is you're passionate about so that you're willing to push through the tough times," she said. "What happens is people don't find their passion and then they don't have fun, so nobody is going to put work into something they don't really enjoy doing.
"You are always going to find a way out or find a way to shortcut it, and that's not how you have a chance at being the best at it."
Patrick looks at her own career -- moving to Europe while in high school, a transition to stock cars and a retirement earlier than she first thought -- and realizes she might not know what passion awaits.
"As I always say to people, my life changes in ways that I would never expect every couple of years," Patrick said. "Who knows where I will be in a couple of years?"
Maybe it includes just owning a big plot of land, hanging with NFL quarterback boyfriend Aaron Rodgers, having an awesome fitness trail for her to work out on and relaxing with no responsibilities. Plenty of athletes have done just that.
Then again, maybe not.
"What I'm trying to get rid of is less stress and feeding the artistic side of me more," Patrick said. "I think all these things will do it. But at the end of the day, I'm a goal-oriented, hard-working, determined person, so I don't really think it fits my personality to just sort of be complacent.
"I [could] slow down a lot, and then I get bored and then I do something else."
Like race again?
"Oh stop," she said. "I'm not. No.
"Never say never ... but probably never."