In honor of Women’s History month, we at Advantage Automotive Analytics would like offer a tribute to some of the outstanding talent and success of women in the automotive industry.
Danica Patrick, born in 1982 in Wisconsin, is an accomplished race car driver and the first woman to win an IndyCar championship event. She began her career racing go-karts in her hometown of Beloit, Wisconsin. At just 16, after achieving national success in go-kart racing, she left high school to race Formula Fords and Vauxhalls in the United Kingdom.
Patrick returned to the U.S. in 2002 after she signed an Indy-Car racing contract with Bobby Rahal. In her first appearance at Indy, in 2005, Patrick set the fastest lap in practice (229.88 mph [369.956 km/hr.]), but she could not duplicate this feat during official qualifying. She became the first woman to lead the classic race (three times for a total of 19 laps) and eventually finished fourth. She was named Rookie of the Year for 2005 and was voted Indy Racing League (IRL) Most Popular Driver in 2005, 2006, and 2007. On April 20, 2008, in her 50th start in the IRL, Patrick secured the first big win of her career—the Firestone IndyCar 300 race at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Motegi, Japan.
Beginning in 2010, Patrick raced a partial season in NASCAR’s lower-tier Nationwide Series in addition to continuing to compete in IndyCar racing. In August 2011 she announced that she would move to NASCAR full-time in 2012 and would participate in both Nationwide and Sprint Cup (top tier) races. Patrick won the pole position for the 2013 Daytona 500, becoming the first woman to start a Sprint Cup race from the pole. She also became the first woman to lead a lap in that race, and she finished in eighth place.
Patrick has cowrote several books, including the memoir Crossing the Line (2006) and Pretty Intense: The 90-Day Mind, Body, and Food Plan that Will Absolutely Change Your Life (2017). She later hosted the podcast Pretty Intense. In addition, Patrick occasionally acted, and her credits included the film Charlie’s Angels (2019).