Danica Patrick is accustomed to hearing the word "first" attached as a suffix to her name. She's the first woman to win a race in the IndyCar series, first woman to finish among the top three in the Indianapolis 500, first woman to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole.

The high-profile racing standout is already off to a fast start in 2013, winning the pole position for the Daytona 500 this weekend with a speed of 196.434 miles per hour, the fasted pole qualifier in 22 years. She finished the race in a respectable 8th place.

As she prepared for the season-opening race this past Sunday, she also prepared to be honored on the PBS series "Makers: Women Who Make America," a documentary that premiers at 8 p.m., EST, on Tuesday night. (Check your local listings).

The three-hour documentary profiles both famous and unknown women – Patrick most certainly falls into the former category – who helped blaze changes in every corner of society over the past half-century.

When she was a child growing up in northern Illinois, Patrick never thought much about being a girl in the boy-dominated sport of go-kart racing. Nor did she think twice about laying with Barbie dolls.

"When you're young, you're doing things that are natural and instinctual," she tells PBS. "And I don't think we're thinking about why we're good at throwing a football or driving a go-kart. It's just in us."

She was racing by age 10, offered a chance to race in England by age 16, and by age 23 was back in the U.S., becoming the first woman to ever lead the Indy 500, which she led for 19 laps in 2005. She won her first IndyCar race in 2008.

When Patrick first started racing, she didn't want to stick out as the girl as the race track. So she didn't wear pink or purple. She didn't wear makeup. Over time, she decided her femininity and career could co-exist.

"When I finally came around to having the opportunity to do photo shoots, it was unique and it drew lots of attention and opinions, but it didn't make me less of a racecar driver," she said. "It was odd that it took me that long to realize it didn't change what I was going to do in the car."

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sorry i missed Desire Wilson.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I have been a race fan for MANY years. Danica has caught my attention, and has my backing. She has proven that she can get the job done, and being good looking is an added plus....
      • 1 Year Ago
      I would love to see a replay of Danica crash at Datona into the inside wall a couple years back,,LOL
      • 1 Year Ago
      A couple of years ago Danica was leading the Indy 500 near the end of the race. As I remember it there were 3 cautions and 3 times Her Crew Chief never put on Tires. She would have won had it not been for that.
      • 1 Year Ago
      If Biffle hadn't been paid off to slow and put Danica in a box, she would have been on the podium.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sorry,always associate Danica with Indie, but yes Daytona 500. Comments still stand.
        • 1 Year Ago
        "Comments still stand?" BS! Jimmie "Five time" Johnson, The race winner, said on NASCAR Now that if Danica had pulled down in front of Jr, Jr would have hit her so hard that it would have spun her in front of the entire field. JJ said she did the right thing under the circumstances. Since he is a 5 time Sprint Cup champion and you are just a brain dead moron w/ a computer, I'll take his word over yours every day of the week and twice on Sunday. PS Don't challenge me! I have a brain....
      • 1 Year Ago
      kwikrdrvr you're a jerk.
      The New Joe
      • 1 Year Ago
      Great job she did being the First White American Women to get the poll position at Daytona. The First White American Women great job
      • 1 Year Ago
      She is one sexy lady!
      Welcome Don
      • 1 Year Ago
      The danika seat sniffers are out again. For those of you that obviously know nothing about racing let me put this into perspective for you, so pay attention. This wanna be has won ONE race in seven years, PERIOD. And in that race in Japan it took the cars in front of her to drop ou,t from out of gas. She has been given top shelf cars with the best teams that other drivers with far better credentials deserved. Her driving skills at best are middle of the pack. What she does have is the best marketing team pushing this no talent pretty face to the limit. That and a fan base that knows nada, zilch, zero about racing !
      • 1 Year Ago
      I thought you had to win races to be CALLED champion ??? I guess if you can't make it as a driver you can make it as a slut.....
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow this is great, she is not only very beautiful but very smart and a great competitor, She proved herself at the Daytona 500 showing that she can compete with the pros and gieve them a run for there money..Mark my word, she will be winning a lot of Nascar Races...Keep up the great jof your doing Dancia, the whole world loves you.
    • Load More Comments