“I feel like the things that you do on the side, that are, like, your hobbies, are probably what you should be making your career out of,” Patrick, 35, told The Post in a recent interview conducted by phone. “While racing has given me everything I know, and I’ve done it for — this would have been my 27th season — I love it, but my passions, what I do for fun are all the other things that I’ve started doing.”
In addition to writing a book, “Pretty Intense,” that offers readers a transformative, “90-day mind, body and food plan,” Patrick has her own clothing line, Warrior, and wine label, Somnium. They mesh into a personal lifestyle brand that reflects her progression from the most prominent “GoDaddy Girl” in the website-oriented company’s controversial ads.
For its part, GoDaddy no longer does that sort of marketing, and in fact, it won’t have a presence in the Super Bowl for the second time in three years, after a 12-year run marked by the racy content it gleefully presented to the 100 million or so annual viewers in the United States of the NFL’s championship game. Having built a large amount of brand awareness with those ads, albeit while leaving some wondering what the company actually did, it is now presenting itself as “the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures.”
As such, GoDaddy, which has taken strides to improve its corporate culture and recruit women employees, is happy to renew its partnership with an increasingly entrepreneurial Patrick. The company dropped its NASCAR sponsorship of her in 2015, after first backing her in 2007 — and quickly having her purr, “I’m really racy” in an “uncensored,” Internet-only ad — then following her from open-wheel to stock-car racing.
“I never did anything with GoDaddy that I was uncomfortable with,” Patrick said. “We got noticed, and then our brands really similarly grew and evolved, and moved on. … I mean, we’ve all grown up together.”
“You could say we’re getting the band back together,” GoDaddy’s chief marketing officer, Barb Rechterman, said recently in a statement. “It makes sense in that our goals are so well-aligned — she’s passionate, tenacious and creative, just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the Internet and turn their ‘side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers. We love it.”
When she tearfully announced her retirement in November, Patrick didn’t sound like she was loving the way her final NASCAR season went, particularly her struggles to line up a primary sponsor. The company that took over from GoDaddy in 2016, Nature’s Bakery, backed away from a three-year deal in an ugly episode that involved a lawsuit and accusations that Patrick wasn’t doing enough to promote its products.
At one point late in the 2017 season, Patrick slapped the logo of her own company, Warrior, on the hood of her No. 10 Ford, essentially sponsoring herself. “I’ve never been there before. I’ve always had a sponsor,” she said in November. “It forces you into thinking about things and nothing was lining up easily.
“If I don’t feel like I can run better than where I am, then I don’t want to do it. And, there have been times that I could not have been more miserable,” Patrick continued. “That’s not why I come, and I feel like it takes away from everything else I accomplished.
“I don’t want to be remembered for the things that didn’t go as well. I want to be remembered for the things that went well.”
As recently as last week, Patrick told Joe Rogan on his podcast that sponsorship issues weren’t the only reason she had become increasingly unhappy in NASCAR, she also didn’t enjoy the environment. “In the last year, as far as an energetic space, it’s just so sad and negative a lot of the time,” she said. “Racing in general, most of the time it’s miserable.
“You have some days that are good, but most of the time it’s not happy. You’re not satisfied, you wish somebody would have treated you better out there, there’s so many things to be negative about, and just the grind of it.”
When speaking with The Post, though, Patrick struck a more upbeat note, perhaps buoyed by her reunion with GoDaddy, which had occurred in the interim. After acknowledging that she “got to the point where I just hadn’t had enough fun for too long,” pointing to “outside circumstances,” she asserted that it all wound up for the best.
“I was originally supposed to be racing full-time this year, but due to the sponsor leaving at the beginning of last year, it changed the contract, but in fact, it put me in this wonderful place that I’m so happy I’m in now,” Patrick said. (Part of her happiness could be a new romance with Aaron Rodgers, but she preferred to speak no further about it after confirming to the AP last week that she and the Green Bay Packers quarterback were “dating.”)
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“I think that people spend so much time in their lives trying to make sure that they do what everyone expects them to do, what they’re supposed to do, and maybe just what’s comfortable and familiar,” Patrick said, “but I’ve never been someone who has really minded change, or something new.”
Patrick changed the face of NASCAR, attracting legions of fans, including many young girls, even though, in five full-time years at the circuit’s highest level, she never won a race or finished higher than 24th in the Cup standings. Her relative inability to repeat her IndyCar success, which included a win and six top-10 finishes in the season standings, earned her plenty of outspoken detractors among NASCAR fans, as well, but as the most successful female driver in both open-wheel and stock-car racing, her trail blazer legacy is secure.
In her new endeavors, particularly with an ambition to become something of a fitness guru, the fact that Patrick is a woman won’t be nearly as noteworthy, if at all. However, the striking looks of which GoDaddy used to take full advantage can also be very much an asset as she markets her lifestyle advice, and she is as confident as ever that her determination and work ethic can help her as she ventures out beyond racing.
“My goal is to never blend in, so I would hope that no matter what I do, I stand out,” she said. “Being a woman in the world of wellness, fitness, health, is not as unique as being a race-car driver, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t ways that I can make it unique. And that will always be my goal.”
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