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Danica Patrick Reflects on the Silver Lining of Burning Man Chaos

Joining other celebrities like Chris Rock, Austin Butler and the DJ Diplo, the Cup Series legend was forced to evacuate the festival after severe weather conditions derailed the event.   

By Andrew Woodin
Danica Patrick pose sin a black dress on a red carpet

Owing to the relentless, pounding rain from multiple summer storms, this year’s Burning Man festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert was subject to such harsh living conditions that many of its 70,000 attendees were forced to escape, trudging for miles through long sections of dense mud that turned the tranquil desert terrain into more of a nightmarish hellscape.

Those who fled the brutal environs included a myriad of celebrities, such as actor Joel Kinnaman, his Victoria Secret model fiancé Kelly Gale, comedian Chris Rock, model Cindy Crawford, the blockbuster DJ Diplo, and legendary NASCAR driver Danica Patrick.

After making it out of the muck and mire to safety, Patrick posted an Instagram story, summing up what it was like to experience the harrowing ordeal, though she was able to find some positives in it it all.

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“Made it out,” wrote a thankful Patrick in her post. “Stuck three times and it took four hours but on pavement.”

In the past, the former NASCAR Cup Series racer has fully embraced the art, music and counterculture-laden festival but, as Patrick reveals, the brutal conditions from Mother Nature this year created an opportunity for some attendees to go above and beyond as they tapped into their altruistic side to help those in need.

“The challenge from weather really helped show everyone’s true nature at BM and it was to step up and help each other,” continued the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series Most Popular Driver. “Too bad that couldn’t be our full reality but for now… It’s one magical week in the desert. Or swamp this year.”

A rainbow seen over the muddy grounds of the "Burning Man" festival.

Burning Man was founded in 1986 by Larry Harvey and Jerry James and originally staged in San Francisco. The annual festival moved to Nevada's Black Rock Desert in 1991, just as much an experiment in community-building as it is a celebration of the artistic spirit. In the absence of money exchanging hands, festival attendees are encouraged to trade and barter for various services and everyday goods like coffee or a toothbrush.

Those principles of community, along with plenty of art and song, are designed to encourage attendees to channel their own creativity and freely express themselves. 
At the end of the nine-day festival, “Burners,” as the attendees are referred to, unite in the temporary city for the final pièce de resistance: the ceremonial burning of a giant sculpture of a man.

Though Patrick competed in 191 races over seven years in NASCAR’s elite Cup Series, the now 41-year-old never won an event, but she did earn seven top-10 finishes and one pole. Still, during a time where she had to navigate a historically male-dominated circuit, Patrick embraced her notoriety as the only woman to regularly compete in NASCAR’s top flight as well as being the only woman to ever win an IndyCar race, which she accomplished by taking the checkered flag at the 2008 Indy Japan 300.

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