Millions of people will watch the end of Danica Patrick’s racing career Sunday when the Indy 500 is televised. Only two people have been there from the beginning of her career her parents T.J. and Bev. Only they know the highs and lows of what she’s been through.
I had a chance recently at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to talk with T.J. Here is a portion of that interview.
(Scott Leber) “What are your thoughts as you get ready to watch your daughter do it for the last time? Joy? Sadness? What are your feelings?
(T.J. Patrick, Danica’s father) “It’s all of them. There’s joy. There’s sadness. There’s relief. All of them. It’s been a long journey. I think she felt it was time and I feel it’s time too. It’s been a …it’s a hard road. People don’t realize how hard it is to stay up here. It takes a lot of work, commitment and it’s time to move on to a different chapter.”
(Scott) She’s such a competitor. Do you think she’s going to be able to walk away from the competition? That aspect of it all? Is she going to have a hard time?
(T.J.) “I imagine she will. There will be times when she misses it. There will be times when she doesn’t, but I think her and her other businesses, that’s what makes her other businesses so well is she’s a competitor and she’ll take that competitiveness into the business field. That’s more her passion now rather than driving a race car.”
(Scott) When Danica was little and she was racing go-karts the first time she said to you, “Mom, Dad I want to race in the Indy 500 one day.’ What did you think?
(T.J. Patrick) “You ask that question it’s a little ironic. I remember the very first year we were in go-karts she just turned ten years old and about four months into it whenever I was telling her stuff to do and how to do it she picked it up and I said to my wife I said, ‘She’s different. She’s going to change racing.’ And I knew it back then you know a month or two into it because I had been racing my whole life and I’d seen a lot of people and she was just different.”
(Scott) Is this the perfect way you would have envisioned her career ending (her career) here at the Brickyard?
(T.J.) “Absolutely. When she talked about retirement she goes, ‘I don’t know? What do you think?’, I’m going, ‘It’s up to you,’ I said. But it’s like home.”
(Scott) As you look back at all she has accomplished how much of a success would you rate her career?
(T.J.) “I guess if you look at success as far as is she happy? Yea, she’s happy. Would she have liked to have won more races? Absolutely, but if you asked any driver they’re all going to say they wish they’d won more races. I think what she’s done for the sport of racing is probably immeasurable. I go to go-kart tracks nowadays and there’s just as many girls as boys, so I guess if you want to measure it that way it was a success.”
(Note) The Patricks used to live in Roscoe, Illinois. They’ve lived in Indianapolis the past several years, but they still own property in the Roscoe/Rockford area.
Watch the Indy 500 Sunday on WTVO 17. The prerace coverage begins at 9:30 a.m. Coming Thursday on Eyewitness News the man who delivered Danica a set of wheels so she could race at Indy Ed Carpenter.