She started in go-karts when she was 10, and was a national champion two years later. By the time Danica Patrick turned 16, she was on her own in Europe, pursuing a racing career.
Patrick was a fearless woman in a sport almost exclusively comprised of male drivers. She raced hard, sparred with her rivals off the track and rarely flinched while becoming one of the most recognizable athletes in the world.
Her tough-girl persona almost never cracked in public.
When it came time to announce her retirement, with her mother, father, sister, brother-in-law, boyfriend and support team watching from the back of a crowded room at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday afternoon,...