BOSTON – Danica Patrick arrived at Charlestown’s Warren Prescott K-8 School on Wednesday morning to a sea of students chanting her name in unison, a DJ blaring top 40 hits and New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s Milo the Moose leading the charge in the dance circle.
The scene was electric for 10 a.m. on hump day in the middle of June, considering most kids would be counting down the days and minutes until summer vacation hits.
That’s what “DAN-I-CA! DAN-I-CA!” means to NASCAR’s younger demographic of fans.
“I don’t think I’ve ever actually had a welcoming like that, ever,” Patrick told the crowd, shortly after being serenaded by the school’s chorus with a pretty spot-on rendition of American Authors’ “Best Day of My Life.” That song choice surely wasn’t a coincidence.
Patrick responded by announcing to the school that all of its students would be gifted tickets to the upcoming Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Overton’s 301 at NHMS (July 16, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN), for which she was in the Bay State promoting.
They went wild yet again.
“I’ll tell you what, those kids were really loud,” said Patrick, fresh off her two best results of the season at Dover and Pocono. “I think it’s one of those moments that’s surreal and looking back, those are going to be the kinds of moments where it’s like ‘Wow, that really happened and kids cheered that loud.’
“And they know my name, first of all. They even know my name! And they’re cheering for (me). It was really nice to have that. It made me feel important for a second.”
It wouldn’t be the last stop of the day where everybody “knows (her) name,” – the afternoon ended at the Boston bar Cheers Beacon Hill, inspiration for the long-running sitcom, “Cheers.” There, she filmed a spoof of the show for the track’s social media team with a cameo from NHMS vice president and general manager, David McGrath.
As fun as the Cheers segment was, her appearance was all about the students. Or, in this case, “teachers.”
Patrick, eight girls from the school, and an NHMS social media winner (a 5-year-old girl from Topsfield, Massachusetts) took a trolley decked out with New Hampshire Motor Speedway logos and graphics around one of America’s most historical cities, stopping at important locales from the American Revolution. These tours are typically guided by a jovial, knowledgeable driver, but this one had a catch – the eight girls had prepared notes, took the microphone from “Buck,” Wednesday’s driver, and gave history lessons to Patrick at a few stops along the Boston Freedom Trail.
“The kids are impressive,” said the Cup veteran. “They all prepared information for the different sites that we’ve been seeing around the city of historical importance. The school did such a great job of not only getting all the kids together and getting them excited, but also incorporating something educational along with it, and then adding public speaking on top of that. I mean, what a challenge.
“They did an incredible job.”
The trolley made stops at the Bunker Hill Monument, the statue of Samuel Adams behind Faneuil Hall and the Boston Public Garden, home of the famous swan boats.
After a quick trip around the pond located in the Garden, Patrick got down on a knee to be eye-to-eye with the girls and had a message: “Work hard and dream big.”
The girls were clearly moved.
“Days like today, when you hear that you’re an inspiration, that’s the good stuff,” Patrick said.
“That’s what makes me think that my work, while sometimes frustrating, is worth it.”