Race car driver Danica Patrick goes through life at 200 miles per hour—even off the track. She relies on win-win life strategies to keep her grounded. Check out the tips she offers to Shape readers in the June issue. In addition, she also shares her turbocharged workout that gets her sexy and sculpted for bikini season.
Follow your passion
To figure out where Danica’s unconventional career choice came from, look no further than her parents. Her dad, T.J., used to race snowmobiles, which is how he met her mother, Bev. “She repaired snow-mobiles. Her nickname was actually Captain Traction,” says Danica with a laugh. It was clear early on that Danica had racing in her genes. “I remember driving my dad’s pickup truck around his office building at 20 miles per hour and my little sister, Brooke, yelling, ‘Slow down, slow down!’ I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but I was only 8 at the time,” she admits sheepishly. When she started racing go-karts two years later, she was one of the only girls doing it. (Danica proudly notes that today, nearly a quarter of go-kart racers are female.) “I felt invincible when I first started driving; I just wanted to go for it,” she says. “Now that I’m married, though, I get that feeling before a race of, ‘Wow, this is dangerous.’ I’m not scared out there, but I do think it’s a good thing to be a little nervous. It helps me perform better.”
Stop spinning your wheels
At 5'2" and 105 pounds, Danica is the smallest of the Indy drivers. In a sport where the lighter your load, the faster your speed, you’d think she’d have an advantage. Not so, says Danica. “I have to work harder than those bigger guys to control my car.” To maintain her strength-—not to mention her endurance for those five-hour races—Danica works out almost every day. She keeps her routine fresh by changing it up twice a year. During race season, which goes from April to September, she runs for an hour every day, then concentrates on upper body exercises that strengthen her shoulders, forearms, and back—moves essential for handling her 1,500-pound vehicle. To stay strong but sculpted during the off-season, she works with a trainer. Just as important as exercise, though, is taking a break. “I skip days here and there and don’t beat myself up for it,” she says. “My husband always reminds me to let my body rest.”