Danica Sue Patrick (first name pronounced /ˈ d æ n ɪ k ə / , born March 25, 1982) is an American auto racing driver, model, and advertising spokeswoman. She is the most successful woman in the history of American open-wheel racing—her win in the 2008 Indy Japan 300 is the only women's victory in an IndyCar Series race and her third place in the 2009 Indianapolis 500 the highest finish there ever by a woman.
She competed in the series from 2005 to 2011. In 2012, she competed in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and occasionally in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Since the 2013 season, Patrick has driven the #10 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing in the Sprint Cup Series. In 2013, she became the first female NASCAR driver to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole, turning in the fastest qualifying lap since 1990—qualifying for the Daytona 500.
Patrick started in kart racing and later raced in Formula Ford in the United Kingdom before returning to the United States and moving up to IndyCars. She was named the Rookie of the Year for both the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and the 2005 IndyCar Series season.
She holds the IRL record for most consecutive races running at the finish: as of October 2, 2011, she had completed 50 consecutive in the running (besting the record by 18). During her time in IndyCar, Patrick drove for Rahal Letterman Racing from 2005 to 2006, and Andretti Autosport from 2007 to 2011.
At the conclusion of the 1991 season, Danny Sullivan left the team, and was replaced by Bobby Rahal. Sullivan went to Rahal's old seat at Galles-Kraco Racing. Due to the possible fraudulent actions by Patrick against Ilmor, the team was refused a Chevy engine lease, despite inking the popular Rahal.
Facing a decidedly uncompetitive powerplant situation for 1992, and escalating legal problems, in December 1991, Patrick sold the team outright to Bobby Rahal and Carl Hogan. They formed Rahal-Hogan Racing, which is now known as Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Patrick was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, the daughter of Beverly Ann (née Flaten) and Terry Jose Patrick, Jr. Her mother's family is of entirely Norwegian descent. She grew up in nearby Roscoe, Illinois. Her parents met on a blind date at a snowmobile event in the 1970s when Bev was a mechanic for a friend's snowmobile. T. J. raced snowmobiles, motocross, and midget cars. They have owned a Java Hut and a plate glass company. Patrick has a younger sister named Brooke.
In 1982-1984, the snowmobile market was in a downward slide, and the driving force behind the snowmobile program (Executive VP Robert Carlson) had left the company. This made ending the snowmobile program an easy decision for Deere. The parts supply and all snowmobile-related resources were sold to Polaris. There was an understanding that Polaris would continue where Deere left off, selling snowmobiles and parts to the Deere dealers that were interested. This never worked out.
Patrick was a cheerleader at Hononegah Community High School in Rockton, Illinois, in 1996 and spent her off-time babysitting for a family down the road when she wasn't racing. She dropped out of high school and obtained a GED certification. Her father, T. J., helps his daughter by driving her motor coach and managing her Web site and merchandise trailer, while her mother, Bev, handles Patrick's business affairs.
Patrick began go-karting in 1992 at the age of 10 at the Sugar River Raceway in Brodhead, Wisconsin.