Though she began racing because younger sister Brooke wanted to race, Danica Patrick won numerous karting titles. At 16, she left home for England, where she raced in some of the most difficult junior series in the world. The highlight was a runner-up finish in the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, the highest finish by an American in the event's history. That result drew the attention of Indianapolis 500 champion Bobby Rahal, who signed her to a contract and began shepherding Patrick up the racing ladder.
The 2005 IndyCar Series season was a banner year for Patrick as she started fourth and finished fourth at the 89th Indianapolis 500 and earned JP Morgan Chase Rookie of the Year honors. It was the highest starting and finishing position for a woman driver in the event's history. The rookie led 19 laps during the race to become the first woman to lead at Indianapolis. She capped the IndyCar Series season by winning the Bombardier Rookie of the Year Award after finishing 12th in the standings for Rahal Letterman Racing.
Most recently, Danica made history and became the first woman to win a major auto racing event when she won the Firestone IndyCar 300 Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.
Patrick has become one of the most recognizable female athletes in the United States, gracing the covers of publications such as TV Guide and ESPN: The Magazine. She also was recently featured in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue.