Updated May 27, 2018: The GoDaddy crew extends a big shoutout to Danica Patrick for an awesome racing career — the first chapter in an exciting professional adventure that promises plenty more excitement (learn all about that below). Danica, the only woman to have won an IndyCar race, took her final laps on the track at the Indianapolis 500 on May 27, 2018. We’ll keep cheering for you as you make your ideas real as a small business owner, Danica!
I recently had the exciting opportunity (yes, I was a bit starstruck) to chat with Danica Patrick during her visit to the GoDaddy offices in Arizona. A dynamo on the race track and off, Danica made her whirlwind day of interviews with multiple media outlets and meet-and-greets with GoDaddy employees look like a leisurely lap around the track. Confident and calm, poised and professional, as she tackled a tight schedule with a TV crew in tow, Danica offered a glimpse into the attitude and work ethic that have underscored her success on the race track and beyond.
During our interview, Danica talked about her decision to retire from racing and her current entrepreneurial ventures — including a health and fitness book, clothing line and winery. She also offered some words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Q&A with Danica Patrick
This transcript has been gently edited for clarity.
Andrea Rowland: Hi. My name is Andrea Rowland and today I have the pleasure of chatting with Danica Patrick for the GoDaddy Blog. Hi, Danica.
Danica Patrick: Hi. How’s it going?
AR: Great! Most people probably know you for your trailblazing career as a race car driver, the first woman to win an IndyCar race and the pole position at the Daytona 500 — but that chapter is coming to a close. And you’re getting ready to start a new one as an entrepreneur. Your last race is coming up at the Indianapolis 500, right, in May?
DP: That’s right.
AR: How are you feeling?
DP: I’m good. I’m excited, and I’m nervous. You know, the way that I felt with the Daytona 500 is how I feel with the Indy 500 — I want it to go really well. On some level you feel like that’s, you know, going to be the story of your career, but you’ve got to remember that it’s just one race. But I’m still going to put all the effort into it as if it is the only thing that matters. But, again, that’s how I’ve lived my whole career. That’s how I’ve always done it. I put everything into it, leave nothing to chance and no excuses. I’m ready. I’m excited. I think race day is going to be fairly emotional. And I’m not really ready for that, but it’s going to happen. I’ve decided the pit lane must be kept very tight. And my dad needs to be behind me, not in front of me, because he’s going to be a wreck.
AR: Your dad will be?
DP: Yeah, for sure.
AR: Have they always been very supportive of your career?
DP: Oh, for sure. And my dad loves racing. I mean, he loves racing more than I do. He has pictures from going to the Indy 500 in the ‘70s. … So I know for him this is a big deal. It’s a big deal for me, of course, too.
AR: Is that where you started your career?
DP: Well, not with the Indy 500. … When I started I was 10 or so with go-karts. We grew up in northern Illinois, so kind of did it regionally and then went nationally. And then when I was 16, I moved to England and lived there for three years and raced cars, came back, got a ride with Bobby Rahal, did Formula Atlantic for two years, and then started IndyCars in 2005.
AR: So this has been your whole life.
DP: Yeah. This is my 27th season.
AR: I’d love to know what was going through your mind as you were making this decision to retire. Was there ever a ‘what’s next’ moment?
DP: I would still like to say that I’m very decisive in my decision to do this. I won’t look back and think it’s a bad decision. Or I don’t get sad or regretful — but every now and again, a decision does take a while to make, and this one did. You know, it took the entire ‘17 season to really notice the signs. I’ve let things flow. I didn’t force the issue. I wasn’t desperate to keep going. I was only going to keep going if I felt like I had the same or a better opportunity to perform. What I love about racing is really not racing. So as soon as the potential to be happy based on the things that I enjoy started to become less likely and seemed to be not possible and a very big uphill climb, that’s when I started to see the signs. And I was like, I’m just not happy doing this.
I think that there are some times that we do certain jobs and it’s not necessarily the job itself that we love. It’s the challenges, the disciplines, the journey of being successful at it — and that was how it was for me in racing.
DP: Well, it’s not coming up. It has come. The first thing that launched was my wine finally went for sale last year, which is a project I’ve been working on since really the end of 2008 — so almost 10 years later.
AR: Wow. And that’s in Napa?
DP: It’s a Napa Valley wine, a cab. We just came out with a rosé. And we’re going to have a sauvignon blanc at the end of the year. So we’ll be in our second vintage of cabernet sauvignon. The name of it is Somnium.
At the beginning of last year, my clothing line, Warrior, came out, which was super cool, super girly. I love it. I love the designing. I love the aesthetic.
I love designing a collection that I just want to wear.
Imagine if you just go, ‘Today, I think I’d like to just do this to it and that to it …’ OK, maybe not quite that direct because of the time it takes to turn clothes over, I’m learning, is a long time. It’s a six- to eight-month period — but it’s still really fun.
And then the book that came out at the beginning of this year was a project I had been working on for two years, with writing it, writing a workout program, having a focus group test it, editing the book, writing the recipes, photographing the recipes. So that was a long process. It’s called Pretty Intense.
Those are just the things that are going on right now.
AR: So where can people get your clothing line?
DP: Well, right now we’re working on getting the website set up. So for the last year, over a year, it’s been directly on (well, not solely but it started out that way) on HSN. So I think you can still get some stuff on HSN. But it’s going to end up shifting toward WarriorByDanica.com and being its own website.
I see something on social media, and then I’m like, ‘oh, that looks cool.’ And go to the website. So that’s what I’m trying to do, which GoDaddy is helping me with. That’s the next phase for Warrior.
AR: So you’ve got racing, fashion, publishing, wine. How do you balance all that stuff?
DP: I was able to balance it by prioritizing racing first. That’s still a priority, although I have a lot more time now. But it’s about having good people around … I have a great GM for my winery. And I have two great employees that have helped me with everything from racing into this next world of clothing and the book and everything else.
I’m excited to be able to put more into all of them, to get more involved, because if there’s one thing that anyone could say about me, I’m sure that they would say that I’m opinionated, decisive, aggressive, and I dream big.
So I want to be able to get more involved so I can see the vision through and make these companies insanely successful.
AR: What are you taking from your experience in racing into these new ventures? Any big
DP: The lesson of putting the right people in the right places … There’s a big difference between doing the job and doing a great job. So you need someone that’s willing to do a great job as well as have self-starters. You don’t want have to be in a situation where you have to tell somebody what to do every time. I don’t have enough time to run every business completely. So you need self-starter people. And you need people who are very determined and aggressive and want to progress through the company and/or out of it. It’s not even that bad if people want to be able to use your company as a stepping stone … because they’re determined to get somewhere else. So there’s always someone like that coming along. So putting the right people in the right places.
Having a little patience. In racing, I felt like a big deal, you know, 15 years ago. And obviously that was 15 years ago. Nobody probably knew who I really was back then. Things just take time to really sink in. There’s so much stimulus in the world with TV and social and print and you name it. There are just so many venues and avenues for people to get information and see new companies, new products. It just takes a while to really sink in and become a product that people are familiar with.
AR: You’re such an inspiration to so many people, especially women and girls. I’d be interested to know where you turn for inspiration.
DP: I’m kind of a self-starter and dreamer myself, so I feel like a lot of times I tend to dream bigger than most people, but I don’t think I necessarily look to one person. I look to the grand scheme of successful companies and successful people — and they all started somewhere. So that’s all you have to do — start somewhere and have a dream and see it through.
I believe that if we have enough faith and true, true, true belief we could probably fly, but that’s pretty hard to believe. I just think that the mind is incredibly powerful. So if I believe in these companies enough and I can get the people around each company to believe that same way, we’re going to accomplish great things and we’re going to be successful.
These businesses are all passion projects.
Would I love them to be successful and make a ton of money? Of course, but really only because if they make money, it means that they were successful. My driving factor is making them successful. Money is just something that happens as a result of it, usually, but it’s really just a sign that it’s been successful for me. So that’s actually how I’ve lived my whole life. I don’t really care about money; I just always believe it’s going to be there and it is.
AR: Is that the kind of advice you would give to other entrepreneurs who are watching?
DP: Oh, yeah. If your goal is to just make money, I think that you have a higher likelihood, at least at some point or a few points along the way, of being short-sighted and cutting off the pure potential, the true potential of a company, whether it be a timeline or selling out a little bit or compromising on quality or whatever it is. You’re going to compromise along the way and ultimately compromise the true potential of a company. So the goal should really be to see it to its full potential, whatever that vision is that you have for it. If you have a very distant, wide and deep hope and dream for it, then that’s exactly what you’ll get.
AR: Recently, you were on Entrepreneur.com participating in a few episodes of “Elevator Pitch.” I’m really interested to know if you have any takeaways from that for entrepreneurs. Like what works with a pitch?
DP: I’ve been a dreamer my whole life and a doer and not necessarily as much involved in the nuts and bolts, the details, the structure of things. I’m just the one who goes, ‘I want to do this.’ And then people help me do this. So for me it was really cool to be amongst such intelligent businesspeople and have them use lingo that I don’t understand, which just shows me I need to understand how the business world really, really operates — because knowledge is power …
If you don’t know what you’re talking about or what you want, someone could take advantage of you.
Whether it’s from a business perspective, percentages, rates, margins, you name it, somebody can take advantage of you if you don’t know your stuff and know what you want, ultimately, out of the company. So it was really nice to sit with them and get a little educated and a little inspired.
AR: Danica, that’s fantastic advice. And we’re going to be cheering for you not just in Indianapolis, but way beyond that, for years to come.
DP: Thank you. I hope so. … I hope that all these other businesses, we can sit down and do interviews about them individually.
AR: Maybe at the winery.