Danica Patrick is the most recognizable and famous female NASCAR driver in the world. That’s an undisputed fact. We dare you to try and name even five other female racecar drivers who share the same kind of fame and recognition as Danica Patrick. She's a trailblazer in the sport, opening up the floodgates for female drivers (and aspiring little girls, too) all over the world.
She’s one of the most profitable drivers in history, with a net worth of over $60 million. She’s broken numerous records, such as being the most successful woman in the history of open-wheel racing. Her Indy Japan 300 victory in 2008 and her third-place finish in the 2009 Indy 500 attest to her success.
But still, many see her as a polarizing figure. Will she be remembered as a visionary racecar driver? Or as a marketing machine? Or for her sex appeal and choice of sponsorships? Only time will tell.
Despite all of Danica’s successes and accolades, though, there are countless incidents and things that she would like the public to just forget—or never know about in the first place. We all make mistakes, but when celebrities make mistakes, EVERYONE knows about them, they get spotlighted, and the mistakes seem impossible to get rid of. Not helping in this regard is us… as we’ve curated 17 things that Danica Patrick would graciously like every fan to forget. You’re welcome.
17 Her Weeeeird GoDaddy Commercials
Here’s another one that's just bizarre (and definitely not risqué or overly sexy). Instead, it’s over the top in a whole different direction. Here, we see Danica all bulked up and roided out, competing with the men, and it’s a pretty classic exhibition of her marketing powers overtaking her driving esteem.
Racer Kyle Petty called her out, saying that Danica shouldn’t be classified as a driver but instead as a “Marketing Machine.”
Maybe this was in response to her being criticized for having an advantage in racing because she had a lower weight? Who knows? All we know is that sometime in the future, we have no doubt that Danica WILL regret this one. We just hope she doesn’t lose her soul completely to GoDaddy! It’s not worth it, Danica!
16 Her Acting Roles
Like we said earlier, when a celebrity starts garnering huge attention, everyone wants a piece. That includes other industries, too. In this case, following her success in bolstering GoDaddy’s future, people believed she had a valid shot at making it in show business, whether by appearing on TV or in films. We think that Danica would likely want us all to forget about this stage in her career.
Her roles in the entertainment industry were quite pedestrian and lackluster, perhaps most of all when she had a cameo on a 2010 episode of CSI: NY. On the show, she stereotypically played the role of a racecar driver suspected of murder. She also had a cameo on The Simpsons, which is a lot cooler, and in a music video.
15 Her Nixed Super Bowl Ad
Danica Patrick has appeared in numerous Super Bowl ads (13, to be exact, and mostly for GoDaddy), which helped raise her visibility and fame. But perhaps, what would've been her most spectacular ad—because it would've been in front of the gigantic audience watching the New England Patriots snatch victory from the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX—didn’t end up making the cut.
Danica was prevented from her 14th Super Bowl appearance over a controversy in the commercial that showed a dog being sold online. Politically correct standards deem that dogs should only be adopted and not bought/sold like a commodity.
To add insult to injury, Danica also decided to mock animal rights activists, saying, “I don’t think anything in this culture surprises me anymore… when you get into that world of animal rights, tree rights, or whatever. They all have an opinion.” Not good, Danica.
14 How Tiny She Is
Though she's the biggest female name in professional racecar driving has a huge personality and nasty temper, something Danica probably doesn’t want you to know is how tiny she is. She weighs less than 100 pounds, is about 5’2”, and sports a 32A bra size (not that that matters or means anything, but ask the Internet, and you shall receive…).
She’s so small that other racers have even credited her size to lending her an unfair advantage in racing!
Leave it to the competition to grasp at straws when they can’t beat you. Prior to the 2005 Indianapolis 500, racer Robby Gordon publicly called out Danica by claiming she had an unfair leg up over other drivers because of her lighter female frame. We think Gordon’s remarks simply reflect the sexism and jealousy that male drivers experience at the hands of Danica.
13 Her Ex
Marriage is one of the greatest institutions of Catholicism, making divorce one of the worst offenses. Well, Danica went so far as to convert to Catholicism back in 2004 in order to marry physical therapist Paul Hospenthal. Unfortunately, the couple split in 2013, with Danica declaring the union “irretrievably broken.”
In terms of one's career, the public always frowns upon divorces, especially when a divorcee enjoys celebrity status. And since NASCAR wishes to portray “family friendliness,” a divorce could definitely hurt someone like Danica Patrick’s public image. Therefore, it makes sense that she wouldn’t want anyone to know about it. (They were smart enough to foresee this doomed marriage pretty early on when they got a prenuptial agreement in 2005.)
All we want to know is, what did he do to you, girl?
12 Her (Short) Temper and Aggressiveness Toward Other Drivers
Besides being short in the physical department, Danica is also a bit under the bar emotionally, too. This probably comes from her extremely competitive nature—which is a good thing and has helped lead her to such great success. However, having a short fuse can also lead to trouble.
Her confrontations with other drivers are so frequent that ESPN has actually cataloged all of her blow-ups.
She’s gotten into it with Dale Earnhardt Jr after their crash in the 2015 Kentucky Speedway and also with Denny Hamlin earlier in the year. Perhaps scariest of her clashes came in 2012, with Landon Cassill. In that situation, she was actually quoted as implying that she would seek revenge, saying, “I’ve got to work on how to do that (retaliate) because my car is out and (Cassill’s) isn’t.”
11 Her Short-lived Female-supplement Commercials
Here’s one that Danica probably wishes she could take back. After a celebrity plateaus in popularity, it’s common for that celebrity to start snatching up airtime just to get his or her face back in people’s minds. This is clearly the case here with Danica, where she endorsed Strong Girl, a female supplement drink. This came when she pivoted her focus to the world of fitness, an industry where celebrity endorsements are the be-all and end-all of success.
Danica is quoted as saying that Strong Girl is the “standard for high-quality nutrition.”
However, she doesn’t appear to be part of the company anymore, so we wonder if her statement would still stand today. The fact that Danica was heavily into natural produce makes it very unlikely that she actually used the product she was endorsing. But sponsorships mean airtime and money, so we can’t fault her for that. I mean, I’m a dude, and I’d probably endorse Strong Girl if they paid me. They wouldn’t even have to pay me very much.
10 Sports Illustrated
This comes back to the wholesome, family-oriented nature that NASCAR tries to project to its viewers. Though Danica was never on the front cover of a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, she DID appear in a skimpy bikini a few times in the magazine (once without a top at all). The fact is that Danica’s jump into the male-dominated sport of racing opened all sorts of doors for women, and the entertainment industry wanted a piece.
She’s pictured here during a revealing beach shoot. These kinds of pictures shine a negative light on NASCAR, though the entertainment industry and Sports Illustrated loved it because it was a massive hit with viewers. We have a feeling that Danica might regret it in the future when her legacy is starting to be remembered. Does she want to be remembered for being an incredible racer or for being topless in an issue of SI?
9 Posing in a Bikini in Front of This “Car”
This picture perfectly encapsulates an antithesis toward modern feminism and how women wish to be thought of: as sex objects. With female empowerment movements gaining steam and headway all across the world, this picture certainly sends the wrong message. For the male demographic, sure, it’s awesome, seeing a super hot girl splayed out in front of a sweet muscle car. Females might think otherwise, however.
Many girls who are into the sport see Danica as a role model.
And so, when they see this, it diminishes the positive influence she has on these youngsters. The bottom line to remember, however, is that sex sells. And we’re pretty sure this picture sold a whole lot of whatever it was trying to sell.
8 How She’s Remembered
To wrap up these last three posts about her public image, here’s the bottom line: how does Danica Patrick wish to be remembered? As a legendary racecar driver who opened up the sport for many and was the most successful female driver of all time? Or as a sex symbol and icon? We’re guessing that if she could choose, she would choose the former.
And this picture perfectly encapsulates that dichotomy. This photo from Sports Illustrated shows her bottom half in racing gear, but underneath, it all is an itty-bitty bikini. Some view her as a trailblazer in the Indy driving world, while others believe she took that fame and ran with it, banking on her sex appeal more than anything else. CBC New York has labeled Danica as one of the top five most overrated athletes in the world. We just think they’re jealous, though—there’s no doubting she’s done a lot for the sport.
7 Her Inappropriate GoDaddy Commercials
The keyword here is “inappropriate.” We’re not going to sit here and say that ALL of her GoDaddy commercials were bad; they were one of the biggest drivers in skyrocketing her fame in the early days of her success. GoDaddy helped bring her face to a lot of non-racing viewers.
After the first few GoDaddy commercials featuring Danica, her name became one of the most googled names in the world.
But there’s such a thing as crossing a line. And here, we believe Danica has done just that.
In this picture, we see Danica receiving a massage, though it could easily be interpreted as something much more risqué (and that’s sort of the point). For little girls aspiring to be like her, this is definitely one where mom had to cover her young daughter’s eyes. Not to mention, GoDaddy didn’t help themselves too much by having Danica in this situation either because many people, as a result, believed GoDaddy sold X-rated domain names.
6 Being a Cheerleader in High School (and Then Not)
In trying to keep up with her image of a trailblazing racecar driver and role model for girls around the world (though that can be debated from a feminist's point of view), here’s one that Danica would definitely want people to forget: she was once a cheerleader. To someone like Danica Patrick, being a cheerleader sounds like the antithesis of everything she believes in and the opposite of what she’s trying to portray with her racing career.
There’s nothing hardcore or macho about being a cheerleader. But hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere. And in this case, Danica started at Hononegah High School, about which she admits, “Yes, I was a cheerleader. This was before I was kicked off the squad.” Ah, Danica... we’d expect nothing less!
5 Fears That She May Have to Retire
If you’re doing something you love, you’re going to fear the day that you’ll have to retire. But alas, with something as physical as racecar driving, it’s an inevitability. But the fear of why Danica Patrick may have to retire doesn’t lie in her age or physical health, but rather, something much darker… her mental health.
And that might not be the right phrase either. It’s concussions. Concussions are why she might have to retire early.
Danica has revealed to ESPN that she estimates she’d had at least twelve concussions.
That’s a big number. In racing, concussions come from frequent crashes, unsurprisingly. Danica has said that she would flat-out retire if a physician ever advised her that she was risking long-term damage with her injuries. As she put it very poignantly, “I love life… I’m too young to have it be over.”
4 Confronting Booing Fans with Vitriol
We’ve already established that Danica Patrick has a short fuse and quite a bad temper. Usually, however, her anger is directed at other drivers when she feels she’s been purposefully messed with. And despite NASCAR projecting a “family-friendly” attitude, the fact is, this is a sport that features deadly collisions. Even spectators have been killed during live events. Even so, NASCAR doesn’t want foul language to be part of any driver’s lexicon.
But that’s what happened in Pocono last June when Danica’s security turned away spectators wanting autographs, and she received boos from fans. Instead of kindness, Danica went the other way, getting defensive and saying, “My job is not to sign autographs, right? Booing hurts my feelings. I’m a f***ing person, know what I mean?” I guess, but that doesn’t mean you can’t show a little humility toward the fans who basically PAY your salary.
3 Getting Mocked All Over the Place
First, she was mocked by The Onion, which could be considered an honor in some parts of the world. Back in 2013, the satirical newspaper ran a piece with the headline “Danica Patrick Takes Last Place in Preakness Stakes.” The hilarious Photoshopped image showed Danica behind the wheel of her green Chevy, racing behind a few horses. The implication (and worst indignity) here is that Danica couldn’t even beat a bunch of horses, much less other drivers.
Next, she was mocked by retired racing legend Richard Petty, who called her out for completely biased reasons. In 2016, Petty declared that “(Patrick) ain’t gotten no better or worse.” This coming after a 2014 quote in which Petty said the only way Danica could win in NASCAR is if “every other driver stayed home.” This implies that Danica always places last, which is just not true. It sounds like some old-fashioned sexist rhetoric to us.
2 She Sued Her Team and Her Sponsors
This one is pretty embarrassing and definitely something Danica wouldn’t want fans to know about (if she wants to be seen as a “team player,” that is). Back in May 2016, Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR)—Danica’s NASCAR team—settled a $31-million breach-of-contract lawsuit against sponsor Nature’s Bakery. A countersuit by Nature’s Bakery alleged that SHE “could not control” Danica from signing endorsement deals with other competing products.
Since racing teams and their corporate sponsorships hang in a delicate balance, to begin with, the last thing NASCAR wants is for the public to know that a prominent sponsor (Nature’s Bakery) was being sued by a prominent racer (Patrick). But despite the negative light, Nature’s Bakery remained a sponsor of Danica’s after the litigation.
1 Her Leaked Photo
If there’s anything that ANY celebrity likely doesn’t want the public to know about (or especially see), it’s this one: a leaked photo of you in your birthday suit. This seems to happen to celebrities ALL the time. (When will people learn not to take discreet, nude photos of themselves?) In the case of Danica Patrick, an iCloud hack managed to get many female celebrities’ personal photos onto the interwebs.
Danica Patrick’s revealing photo was posted back in 2014. Luckily, compared to some of her peers, the leak wasn’t that terrible. The photo revealed Danica facing a mirror with part of her breast exposed. Even though it wasn’t that bad, it’s definitely something that a role model like Danica Patrick would like to be stricken from her record!