NEW YORK -- When I found out the night before that I'd be interviewing Danica Patrick in our studio on Tuesday morning, I wasn't sure what to anticipate. She's out promoting a new video game in which she appears, Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed. So she came through our studio as part of that tour.
And I was looking forward to meeting her; I've long been fascinated by Patrick not only as an athlete, but also as a woman in her field, and how she's navigated that, and her brand. I sent out queries on my myriad social media networks and simply asked, "What would YOU ask her?"
To my surprise (though it really shouldn't have been), the venom and misogyny were rampant. Much of it focused on the fact that Patrick hasn't accomplished anything in her career; which seems a bit harsh, but also a reality in many NASCAR circles. She raced 43 times this year, splitting time between the Nationwide Series and the Sprint Cup (having two different bosses, crew chiefs, etc.), finishing 10th in points. But she had no top-five finishes and just four in the top 10. Still, it was her first full year racing in the NASCAR circuit.
I was curious about that, about her place in the boys' club, about her temper, and a whole host of other things.
One of the other strains in the comments I got from my networks was that she traded her sexuality for little career credentials. Patrick was quite candid in telling me why she purposefully decided to use her sexuality as part of her brand, and also why it can be hard to show vulnerability when you traverse all of these different worlds. Also, she recently announced she was divorcing her husband, and had yet to talk about it. We discuss that briefly but -- and this one's for all you big NASCAR fans -- we also talk food, wine and what country is atop her travel list she hasn't visited yet.
Oh, and she has the best handshake I've ever encountered. And that's coming from a firm handshaker ...
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