Twenty-six-year-old Danica Patrick has always felt the need for speed, whether aspiring to become the first woman to win an Indy Car race at the 2008 Indy Japan 300, skirting speed limits on the road in one of her sports cars, or chasing around her two Miniature Schnauzers and Maltese, Billy, Pete, and Ricky.
Having been a driver for over seventeen years, starting at age ten with Go Karts, Patrick went from her 2002 multi-year contract with Rahal Letterman Racing (David Letterman’s team) and is presently with the Andretti Green Racing team along with Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, and a new addition from Japan, Hideki Mutoh.
Although she loves having her pups with her as much as possible, Patrick says that the racecar just isn’t the place for it. “None of the dogs have been in the racecar with me – an Indy car is just one seat, so if you’re not strapped in with your six-point harness so tight that you can barely breathe, you’re gonna fall out!”
Unlike his speedster owner, Patrick’s Miniature Schnauzer “middle child,” Billy, hates being in cars. “He’s too big for a lap dog,” Patrick smiles, “But he’s definitely a lap dog!” Patrick’s youngest, a Maltese named Ricky (named after the character “Ricky Bobby” in the racecar spoof Talladega Nights with Will Ferrell) keeps everyone moving with his cleverness and spunk. Meanwhile, Pete, Patrick’s twelve-year-old Miniature Schnauzer, is the oldest of the clan, and is more of a sun-worshipper than an athlete.
Since she spends a lot of time seated in cars, Patrick makes it a priority to get in good workouts for both herself and her animals.
“I think it’s important to give them exercise. We go for walks; they don’t have the stamina to run.” Patrick laughs, “Billy likes to come inside in the air conditioning … he sits there and watches me lift the weights, and looks up-and-down and up-and-down. It just makes you smile the whole time – it probably slows down the workout a little bit!”
From her home in Phoenix, Arizona, Patrick keeps her racing career on the fast track. Having graced the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2005, published an autobiography in 2006, and acted as a product spokesperson, music video cameo and model, she still makes time to spend with her family and three devoted dogs. And when Patrick gets home from a hectic schedule on the road, her pooches are the first ones she looks to for love.
“It’s always nice to see them,” says Patrick, “And they’re always happy to see you, whether it’s a good or bad weekend … they’re like brothers to me.”