Nascar’s Danica Patrick

There’s nothing like a female Nascar driver to make us feel a little less badass than usual. Nascar driver Danica Patrick inflicted just that feeling for us: She came to New York City and both deflated our potatohead egos and inspired us to strive for complete and utter awesomeness (She’s currently competing in the final 19 races of the season on NBC and NBCSN). Patrick filled us in on her must-have beauty products, her love of coffee and what it’s like being a woman in a man’s world…

From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day? 

If I went out for breakfast, there’s an amazing place in Chicago called Tempo that does these souffléd omelets that fill up an entire skillet with potatoes underneath. The potatoes underneath aren’t cooked enough so they kind of suck, but the omelet on top is amazing. Then for lunch I’d go to this place in Australia that is on a Cliffside. It’s in McLaren Vale, which is a wine region of Australia near Adelaide. It has this spectacular view with windows right on the cliff on the ocean. Dinner would have to be in another city. It’s hard for me not to pick another Chicago location because there are so many good restaurants in Chicago. I’ve never been to Per Se here in New York City, so I’d love to try that. If I had to pick one, I would probably have to say Tru in Chicago. I do love that restaurant. Otherwise, I would have a dinner party at home and cook dinner for everybody, and open up a lot of really good wine.

What would you make?

It depends on whether or not I want to be in the kitchen a lot or a little. I probably would try and do a little so that I could have fun and relax. I’d probably make a big delicious salad of some sort, and everybody loves my steaks, oddly enough. I’d probably make everyone steaks and then maybe diced up and roasted sweet potatoes. That would be a good, easy dinner to make.

In terms of health and wellness, how do you practice beauty from the inside out?

It starts outside of putting good things into your body food-wise, as that’s kind of a given. I think if people want to feel good from the inside out, just become your own best friend. That’s a good way to think of it too. Can you hang out by yourself and find things to do and like those things? That’s one of the things I have done over the past year or so – I’ve kind of become my own best friend when I’m home by myself. Whether it be walking the dogs, making some kind of new art, cooking, going in the garden, doing some yoga, or working out, I don’t need anybody else to make me have a good day. I think that really just leads to confidence and not needing anyone or anything. I think that confidence and just being comfortable with yourself makes everything fall into place.

Does staying in shape factor into what you do, or is it something you do for yourself?

A lot of it is for myself, but it definitely doesn’t hurt inside the car and to a certain extent, it definitely helps. There’s a certain point where you’re unfit in the car and get tired or exhausted. Some of it is needed, but do I need to work out every day or twice a day to do my job? No, but I enjoy doing it. Our job is a lot of repetition, but more than anything, it’s endurance. Inside the car, it helps. Outside the car, I like to feel good. Looking good makes me feel good and feeling good helps me live good.

What foods give you the most energy before a big race?

I usually eat chicken, sweet potatoes, and zucchini or squash. Simple and not too heavy in the unsaturated fat department, with some carbohydrate and water-dense vegetable.

How do you usually start your day?

With breakfast. No, I lied – with coffee.  This is probably the third one I’ve had today. I probably won’t drink it; I’ll buy several and take a couple of sips. There’s a theme: stay awake.

What are some of your favorite workouts?

My preference is CrossFit if I had to pick. I can’t say what my favorite workout is necessarily because they’re all different. One that suits my style of CrossFit is called Helen, which is three miles of 300 meter run and 21 kettle bells and then pull-ups three times. It probably takes ten minutes or less. [I love] Body weight workouts. I’m only 5’1, so my strength is not through the roof, but I do like to lift some weights. My body responds to that well; my body responds to intensity. The only way to get your heart rate up really high is to have your feet leave the ground by jumping, or lifting heavy weights. I don’t mean bicep curls; I mean cleans, deadlifts, and thrusters – things like that.

What’s it like to be a woman in a man’s world?

It’s fun. Guys are pretty simple. I don’t feel like they’re a complicated species.

I didn’t start thinking about what it was like to be a girl in a guy’s sport until I was asked it in interviews. My dad never really let me become complacent with being the fastest girl. In fact, that’s nothing he ever even said to me. He told me to be the fastest driver.

Are you superstitious at all? Do you have any rituals before races?

No. I believe that superstitions are only real if you believe in them.

What are some of your must-have beauty products?

I do not fail in that department. I love my lotion; I use La Mer. I have an active serum I use in the morning with the La Mer. Then I use tinted moisturizer over that for SPF and color. At night, I use a trentanoid cream to reproduce healthy collagen. Then I’ll use La Mer and La Mer Renewal Oil, which I love. I have been using that with my lotion. I think moisture goes a long way. I understand that La Mer is expensive, but it’s a lot better than wanting a face lift later in life because I didn’t put the right stuff on. I also do facials, and I’ve had microdermabrasion done since I was about twenty. I think my products and my regime are finally paying off. I also love La Mer Eye Concentrate. I think that’s really good.

What are some of your favorite cities for food and where do you go in each?

I love, love, love restaurants. I put a lot of thought, effort, and frustration into finding the right one and getting in when I want. French Laundry is a phenomenal restaurant; there’s no doubt it’s wonderful. I also love Auberge [also in Napa].

Cabo has some of the best restaurants I have been to recently. There are two of them and they’re right next to each other down a dirt road – Flora Farms and Acre. Dinner at Acre was phenomenal.

In Chicago, there are great ones. I’ve been to Alinea. That was great, but it’s kind of like French Laundry in that it’s supposed to be great. Tru is a little bit less known, but is amazing.

In the same vein as the new black in fashion, what’s the new potato for you right now?

The new potato is definitely the off the shoulder shirt. I’ve tried them on but I have guns (laughs) so I need a shirt that has an actual arm off the shoulder. I think that’s the new black for the summer.

Have you read our interview with Jillian Michaels? Also check out this interview with Olympic gold medalist Natalie Coughlin