Danica Patrick on lockdown advice, life after racing, fitness and CBD

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Danica Patrick may be retired from racing, but that doesn’t mean she’s kept out of the public eye.

The first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 mostly has focused on finding new passions and advocating personal fitness since her racing career ended, and she details both in her podcast Pretty Intense. She also is the proprietor of Somnium, a vineyard and winery that she founded and owns in Napa Valley.

Her relationship with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers also has meant spending more time in California and Wisconsin. Lately, she’s also been leading workouts from her new home in Los Angeles on Instagram Live as people practice social distancing because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Patrick’s newest business venture is her investment in beam, a Boston-based wellness brand that sells organic CBD products that are THC-free. beam was started in 2018 by former minor league baseball pitcher Kevin Moran and former NHL center Matt Lombardi, who met at Boston College and began looking into CBD after their playing careers ended early because of injuries.

NBCSports.com recently spoke with Patrick, who was the first woman to win a major-league race (IndyCar at Twin Ring Motegi on April 20, 2008) and the first female pole-sitter in NASCAR Cup history (2013 Daytona 500).

MORE: Danica’s post-racing plans

She discussed her recent investment and ambassadorial role with beam, her life after racing and the advice she has for those looking to remain in shape during lockdown (the interview has been edited for clarity):

Q: Your investment in beam is one of many things that you’ve done since leaving the driver’s seat. Is there anything else that you’re working on?

Patrick: “I have a wine project that got put on hold for just a little bit, but I have another product that will be launched this summer. I think fitness is still something that I have yet to fully realize what I could do with. I wrote a book also called Pretty Intense, and there’s a fitness program in it. Right now during this lockdown, I’ve been doing the Instagram Live workouts for people and they resonate with it and really like it. Figuring out how to make that something more consistent would be nice.

“But also, I’m just relaxing. People ask, ‘What else are you doing?’ and my very motivated self asks ‘Wow, what am I doing? I’m doing this. I’m doing that.’ But I think especially right now I don’t want to be as busy as I used to be.”

Q: With the coronavirus, people aren’t going to have the chance to do things like go to the gym and go hiking. What kind of advice do you have for people who want to remain in shape while under lockdown?

Patrick: “I think you need to come up with some kind of schedule or routine and hold yourself accountable. I recommend that if there’s a live workout, try to do it. Find one that works for you at a good time, or at least have a time where you can play it. Create a routine or schedule for yourself, and then give yourself that freedom to go ahead and plan a day to do nothing.

“Say, ‘Today’s my day where I have no plan. I’m just going to get up whenever, relax, and do whatever feels like the right thing to do.’ That can be a plan – to do nothing.

“I think that especially since this is obviously going to go on for some more time – probably at least a month – it would be good to come up with some sort of plan or schedule for yourself. Otherwise, it’s very easy to just wake up and have something to eat and turn the TV on or look at your phone and just get distracted.

“All of a sudden you find yourself in the afternoon, still in your pajamas going, ‘OK. Well, I really haven’t done anything yet.’ For me, that’s why I also really enjoy doing Instagram Live workouts at 9 a.m. because it tells me, ‘OK, you need to get up.’ I actually set an alarm for those days to make sure that I have enough time to get ready for everything. A little routine can be helpful.”

Q: You’ve obviously found a lot of new passions since retiring from racing. With all major series on hold due to the coronavirus, what advice do you have for active drivers who now have a lot of free time on their hands?

Patrick: “I think this is a unique opportunity to be able to relax and to spend time with your family and slow down. Figure out what hobbies you like other than racing. There’s barely any time to figure any of that out (when racing), so I think that’s something that is going to be essential during this time. 

“The days are going to get really long if you have nothing to do. You got to figure out if you like to do yoga, if you like to go for bike rides, or if you like to go online and learn something. What do you like to do? Do you like to paint? Do you like to garden? What are your interests?

“This is a great time to figure those things out, as well as spend time with family and friends and people you normally don’t get a chance to. I know that a lot of it is virtual right now via FaceTime or Zoom, but it also gives you some contrast and perspective of being grateful for when you do get back to normal and doing things.”

Q: How did you learn about beam and why did you decide to invest?

Patrick: “I found out about beam from my agency who I just signed on with, as well as through some other channels that are a little more internal. They brought CBD and beam to my attention and then I got on a phone call with Matt and Kevin and connected right away.

“We talked about everything from Crossfit to Adaptogen, to the company and where it’s going, and to sports and coming from that world since they’re both ex-athletes as well. We just got along really well. They were also in a speed round for investment for their company, so once I got the product, tried it and realized how well it worked, I invested in the company before we did our deal with me as an ambassador. That’s how much I believe in their product.”

Q: What was it about beam’s product in particular that piqued your interest? 

Patrick: “That it worked. I’m always into trying things that are No. 1, natural and good for you, and No. 2, that work. There’s a lot of things that I do and put into my body or do for my body that is investing in the future of taking care of myself with, and then there’s ones that I come across along the way that actually just work today. For me, that’s what happened with beam. I realized, ‘Wow, this stuff actually really works.’ It wasn’t just a mindful investment of health and wellness by taking it. I actually felt better from it.

“The topical salve is really effective for muscles and sore anything. I remember I was using it back in Green Bay, and I had some rips on my hands from doing Crossfit and they said, “Put it on.” I was like, ‘Oh, OK. I didn’t know you could put it on open wounds.’ So I did.

“Not long after that, a lady that is in Green Bay that I know really well, her hands were hurting from arthritis, and I was like ‘Oh, I have an extra jar of this. You should use it for your hands.’ She came back to me after and was like, ‘Wow, that was really helpful. That makes my hands feel a lot better.’ The fact that it worked right away was such a rare thing to find.”

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.