Racing and cooking are two of Danica Patrick’s passions.
Patrick discussed both and helped packing backpacks for the Darlington County School District on Tuesday. It was as part in a promotional event for September’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
“I have great people around me that help build a day that isn’t just fun, but also very impactful. Cooking always is super fun for me. Being around kids is fun for me,” Patrick said. “Getting to both of those, and to add the element of giving back, is something we always try to incorporate into events when we can. It is a great tie in.”
Patrick appeared at a similar event in June at Daytona, where she made a Coke and lime cilantro shrimp wrap. At the South of Pearl restaurant in Darlington, she didn’t cook any signature dish, but assisted chef Dale Barth prepare some Southern dishes for the media, sponsors and dignitaries, which included state senator Gerald Malloy.
Patrick said her love of cooking dates to when she was an 18-year-old living alone in England, pursuing her racing career. She said cooking for herself lets her explore her creative side.
On race weekends, Patrick does most of the cooking at her motor home with boyfriend and fellow Sprint Cup driver Ricky Stenhouse.
“I would say I’m an artistic person, so I think cooking is a bit of an artform,” Patrick said. “There is a balance, flavor wise and aesthetics, to making and preparing food. I like all parts of it. I can get quite lost it all day if I had the time.”
Patrick, 33, is in her fourth full season in Sprint Cup and yet to deliver the results she hoped for after moving over from Indy Car. She won the pole at the 2013 Daytona 500, but has only six top-10 finishes in 139 races.
The outspoken Patrick was very candid about her struggles and said they have tested her patience.
“I feel a certain amount of responsibility and guilt when things don’t go better,” Patrick said. “Always fun to cheer when someone is doing well. There are times I don’t feel like I delivering that. I want to give something to cheer about. We are at the phase now where we are running 20th every week, basically. I wish we are delivering more. We got to keep digging and keep working very hard.”
Patrick’s struggles haven’t hurt her popularity with fans and sponsors. Patrick remains one of NASCAR’s most popular drivers and is a marketable commodity, so she has no problem in finding sponsors. After a successful run with GoDaddy, Nature’s Bakery jumped on board as Patrick’s primary sponsor this year. Nature’s Bakery is on Patrick’s for 28 races this year, including at the Southern 500.
Patrick also has branched in other things outside of racing and will launch a clothing line in January of 2017.
“I am lucky to have a great sponsor and great team. And I want to have success in NASCAR and I haven’t had it yet,” Patrick said.
Bojangles’ Southern 500
When: Sept. 4, 6 p.m.
Where: Darlington Raceway
Tickets: Go to www.darlingtonraceway.com