Fresh off a respectable sixth-place finish at this year’s Indy 500, and with the lead role in the new racing video game Blur, Danica Patrick—the only female racer competing in both NASCAR and IndyCar racing today—took a few minutes to chat with MF about how she trains her focus (and body) for the track.
As a race car driver you’ve got to be pretty fearless. Is there anything you’re afraid of?
Lots. [Laughs] Spiders and bugs. Extreme heights. The dark. Water. Ghosts. Basements. All kinds of things.
What kind of car do you drive when you’re not on the track?
Most of the time I drive a Mercedes SUV. I do have a Lamborghini, but I basically just keep it so I can say that. It’s not practical.
How hard is it to stick to the speed limit on public roads?
I don’t think I should have to. [Laughs.] Surely, I’m qualified to speed, right? I should be able to get away with that. Obviously, I’m looking for special treatment. But cops still give me tickets. Doesn’t that suck? Usually they tell me they don’t know who I am, and then it’s on the news in the morning.
Any mental tricks you use to prepare for approaching a big event like the Indy 500?
Don’t overhype things too, too much in your head. If you do, they can seem overwhelming and you worry too much about making a mistake. You almost have to view each race as just another race while you’re there.
Our sister mag, Shape, recently put you on the cover in a bikini. Did you have to workout extra hard or change your diet to get fit for that?
I always work out really hard. But the girls always look amazing on the covers, and I didn’t want to disappoint—so I worked out a little bit more and ate a little bit more cleanly. I definitely tune-up for it.
So you train regularly?
I used to get worn out all the time. I got sick a lot. Now I work out every day. I do cardio. I run a lot. I lift weights. And in the winter when I’m not racing, I do yoga. I’d like to do that all year, but it takes away from my strength training.
What do you focus on at the gym?
Upper body is really important. Not so much core strength, but shoulders, back, and chest.
How essential is fitness to racing cars?
There’s no power steering. If you’ve ever tried to turn your car when the steering goes out, it’s like that. And then with the g-forces you produce going around corners especially, it can be grueling.
What do you typically like to eat?
I love coffee. Water. I eat eggs, oatmeal, and fish. Vegetables. Salads. Things like that. Every now and again, pizza. A little bit of chocolate every day. And red wine! I have a bar and a bottle waiting for me later tonight. Is that OK?
That’s fine with us.?