Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Women in NASCAR Presents: Patricia Driscoll

Photo Credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs

Patricia Driscoll, girlfriend of 2004 NASCAR Nextel (now Sprint) Cup champion Kurt Busch, was gracious enough to take some time out to speak with me on behalf of Skirts and Scuffs at Kansas Speedway. She gave our readers a little insight on the path that has led her to become a beautiful mom to seven-year old son Houston, heavily involved in NASCAR, a huge national military advocate and to meeting the love of her life.

After meeting Patricia, I truly believe in the phrase “big things come in small packages.”

Her story begins here …

Texas Beginnings to NASCAR Involvement

Patricia Driscoll was born and raised in El Paso, TX. She loved participating in sports as well as dancing ballet professionally at an early age. It was interesting to find out that she was one of the first female high school football players (5A Division) in the State of Texas, competing as a kicker. “At my high school they kept saying that Bo Derek did everything so I was the Bo Derek there. They would say that Bo Derek had nothing on Pat.” She also participated on the volleyball team, was captain of the swim team and dance team as well as on the varsity track team as a freshman.

Although Patricia’s involvement with NASCAR is extremely heavy nowadays, she admits to not being a diehard fan of the sport initially. “I had an uncle who had a drag racing habit and I didn't care about any of that stuff. I would go over to his house and always saw NASCAR on his television. Those guys were always running around in circles and I didn't understand what was so interesting about those things.”

As time passed, she developed a great relationship with Aaron’s Corporation who were big sponsors for both the Armed Forces Foundation and NASCAR. Additionally, she sat on the National Rifle Association (NRA) Board with NASCAR team owner Richard Childress, who suggested that Patricia make a trip out to one of the circuit's tracks and experience the sport firsthand.

“Again, I didn't know anything about NASCAR and he was just that guy who owned a team. He told me that you ought to just come out and hang out, realize what a fascinating sport this really is and that there is a lot to it. You will see how each team is not built equally. So, it has been a really great adventure and my partnership with NASCAR has grown where they are an official military charity and they have us bringing wounded troops to the track every weekend. It has been a great cause and this is the most patriotic sport in America.”

Successful Businesswoman to National Military Advocate

Beginning her career as a government employee, Patricia shared that she always had a huge interest in the technology aspect of intelligence and homeland security, especially growing up near the Mexican border. “Obviously a big concern of ours was drug trafficking, stolen cars and people trafficking. It was something of big interest to me.” Her father was employed with U.S. Customs, Aviation and she found it to be intriguing because of the missions and fighting illegal drug activities.

Additionally, her maternal grandfather was a spy and Army Air Corps aviator who fought battles in conflicts from World War II through Vietnam. “He did all kinds of missions throughout the world and disappeared a lot. He was a really neat guy, always fascinating stories and I think that growing up as a kid it was something that very much interested me so I started my defense company which has provided a lot of solutions to the government on different aspects that I can't talk about.”

With her personal experience in serving alongside a number of service members abroad, Patricia understands the sacrifices that are made by those individuals especially in the time of war. “In serving right alongside with service members, I've always felt we need to take care of these people. They are the ones who are putting on the uniform and the ones who are making a commitment. They are our brothers-in-arms so I feel we have a responsibility to take care of them.” She also made mention of the many civilians, contractors and government employees who are serving beside their military counterparts and encounter many of the same dangers as well as sacrifices on a daily basis in the various countries.

Due to the Patricia’s success as a businesswoman and close working relationship with several Congress members in Washington, DC, she was specifically sought out to take over the responsibilities as President and Executive Director of the Armed Forces Foundation which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity organization. Under her leadership, the foundation’s revenues have increased from $100,000 to over $8,000,000 annually. Some of the programs that are housed within and supported by this organization include but are not limited to: PTSD/TBI (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder/Traumatic Brain Injury) Outreach, Family Assistance Program and MWR (Morale, Welfare & Recreation) which is a partner with NASCAR Troops to the Track.

"A laptop and cell phone with extra battery power" allow her to remain involved with business operations despite extensive travel. As much as Patricia loves the responsibilities of serving as both a CEO and Executive Director, she shares that family life is extremely important to her.

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
Love and Family Life

Through her numerous works with the foundation and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, she managed to meet the love of her life and form a very strong family unit in the process. “I love my boys more than anything; they are obviously the number one priority to me. My personal time, I would consider it spending time with my family, Kurt and Houston, and those are things that really make me happy. As much time as I can get of that is really what I want.”

Patricia says she met the love of her life, Kurt Busch, at Walter Reed. “The funny thing is we met at Walter Reed and that obviously to me is always a good sign. You didn't meet him at a bar. Your mom always says that you should meet someone at church, right? That is about as close to church as you are going to get. It was funny because I remember walking up to the back of him because someone told me that I was going to be seated at the same table because we were going to be doing some tours as a group.”

Unfortunately, Patricia wasn't initially happy about this because her staff provided information that Busch had declined to participate in a meet-and-greet “Troops to the Track” event for the foundation; therefore, she was already putting together an on-site game plan to make him excited about the what the foundation was doing for the troops in partnership with NASCAR.

“It is funny how you walk up to someone, you know that your life is about to change forever and you just get that strange feeling. I just knew that my life was changing forever, it was just something and I couldn't put my finger on it. Yes, you can just say it was love at first sight and we had so many things in common. I loved his passion for people and realized that I had the wrong Busch (in regards to the meet-and-greet decline) because it was his brother. It was not him and he was actually doing something for our foundation that very week so I felt like a fool. It is not very often that I’m wrong so that was a fun experience to be wrong.”

When Patricia is able to have some down time, which is very rare right now, she loves salsa and merengue dancing; however, working out is a consistent routine for her - as you can tell by her well-toned arms and physique. She also enjoys photography, cooking and entertaining. Family time entertainment between she, Kurt and Houston involve wrestling, boxing and LEGOS. “When you've got boys, they want to be rough especially the little one because he loves to play war all the time. We will get out the NERF guns and run around or we will play laser tag. We are a pretty physical group and we don’t really sit down very much but I do enjoy the nights when we decide to watch a movie or something together.” Yes, reading and homework are hugely factored into the equation for "The Three Amigos" as well.

I had to ask how Patricia felt about Houston wanting to become a NASCAR driver. “Well, I was kind of hoping that when Kurt decides to retire maybe 10 years from now that would be the end of it," she laughed. But I see that Kurt has had a very big influence on his life, he is excited about the whole scene and he loves it here. He is just energized about being around all of this stuff…Kurt has been delaying putting out the go-karts, but he can’t delay anymore now that the new shop is built and the parking lot is calling for the go-karts to come out. So, I guess I’m ready.”

As we know there are always misconceptions about drivers and their lives and I gave Patricia the opportunity to share her thoughts on what she feels is the biggest misconception about Kurt. “Well, there is no doubt in my mind that Kurt has been upset with some media members and they have fired back and keep firing back. But then we also have some great friends in the media who know him as a person and are very fair. Yes, I do feel there are some things that he does which are wrong but so does everybody else here but he is an easy target to pick on. I feel like he is guy that has been cut open, left out in the water and the sharks just keep circling around and people just like to dog pile. I hate it because I see what such a wonderful person he is, his commitment to the troops as well as doing charity work and to us as a family is very significant.” 

Patricia is a multi-faceted woman with a huge heart, fierce tenacity and great personality who has accomplished quite a bit. She plans to continue being a powerful advocate for the many wounded warriors in our nation. Patricia and Houston have definitely grabbed the heart of the “gentle giant” Kurt Busch and it is quite obvious that the future holds great things for all of them.  

 Official Twitter Accounts:

Patricia Driscoll

Kurt Busch

Official Kurt Busch Website, click here.

If you will be at Texas Motor Speedway this upcoming race weekend, be sure to support the charity event “Fox Supports presents Busch-Whacked Mud Run” on Thursday, November 1. You have the chance to win $500 or four HOT passes for next year. For more information or to register for the event, click here.

On a personal note, I would like to thank Patricia Driscoll for all that she does for the military community because she is a passionate advocate and phenomenal trailblazer. Having served in the military (active duty and reserves) for the past 20 years. as well as having many ties through loved ones (family and friends) who are currently serving here and abroad, it is amazing and an honor to have someone selflessly working hard to make things better for my brothers- and sisters-in-arms.

Unique Hiram is an Associate Editor/Contributing Writer/Media Rep for Skirts and Scuffs. Additionally, she is also the author of "Fast Lane Poetry," which was published April 2011. Unique can be contacted via email or through Twitter.