Danica Patrick is easily the most recognizable face in NASCAR today. That’s one of the reasons Sega enlisted the driver to go virtual in its latest Sonic the Hedgehog game, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. Patrick actually raced with Sonic on her vehicle at Texas Motor Speedway last month. The Super Bowl commercial mainstay, courtesy of GoDaddy.com, talks about her video game background in this exclusive interview.
The Hollywood Reporter: How did you first get involved in NASCAR?
Danica Patrick: I first got involved in NASCAR in 2010. I did a part-time Nationwide schedule, which is one of the classes in the series, while I was still racing Indy Car full-time. I dipped my toe in the beginning, but it’s always been something that I’ve known about, and have only gotten more curious about over the years.
THR: How would you describe your driving style on the track and off?
Patrick: My driving style both on and off the track are very similar. I’m relatively aggressive, but I would say I’m more of a calculated aggressive. I don’t just stick my nose in if I don’t think it’s going to work. It’s about being smart and setting up passes. Sometimes it’s about putting pressure on someone to make a mistake, or just change lanes on the road and get out of my way. So they’re very similar.
THR: Do you have any pre-race rituals or good luck charms?
Patrick: I think that rituals or superstitions are things that as a person, because people have them in their life, whether they drive racecars or whether they drive to work as a secretary or whatever they are, everybody can have superstitions. I try not to have them because I feel like they’re all in your head. If you believe in them then they’re real, so I really just try to not believe in them, or try and crush them quickly if I think I might be developing one.
THR: How did you get involved in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed?
Patrick: Sega came to me and they said they had a game coming out that was going to be on land and water and in the air and the cars were going to transform. When they said I could be a character that you could play in the game, I think that’s like being a kid and playing games and being able then to be in them one day was just something really neat, and something I want to be a part of.
THR: What video games did you play growing up?
Patrick: I definitely played video games. I mean all the way back to the days of the mats you laid down to run on to the go-kart games to all kinds of stuff. When I was younger I definitely liked playing games.
THR: Would you say you had a favorite game?
Patrick: I don’t know if I had a favorite game. I remember playing the Track & Field games and it was a little active. I remember liking racing go-karts because obviously that was a time when I was racing go-karts. So those were fun games. And Sonic is always fun to play, which is why I was so glad to be a part of Sonic now.
THR: What are your thoughts on how far video games have evolved since back then?
Patrick: Video games have changed so much. Everything from visually how they look to the formats, to the package you get it in, to how you play it. I was just thinking that the other day. When you see this stuff on TV, they’ve just come so far. We have more technology and more creativity and your mind wanders so far and then it continues to move, so games are visually really entertaining, more so than ever.
THR: What was it like doing voiceover work for the new Sonic game?
Patrick: Doing the voiceover work for the game for my character was more interesting than I expected. I thought that the director did a fantastic job pulling emotions out of you while you think you’re screaming and yelling and saying the right things in the right way. It takes more to get there. I remember he said when you start to break a sweat, it’s right. And it happened. He was exactly right, so I broke a sweat doing the lines.
THR: What consoles do you like to play on? Do you play anything else outside of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed?
Patrick: No, not really. I’ve played the game a little bit, but I was more of a gamer when I was a little kid than I am now. That’s why it’s cool to be in the game because it’s something that’s just very flattering to be able to have played the game when I was a kid and now to be someone that’s actually in the game and having the kids play as me.