Even if you know nothing about IndyCar Racing or NASCAR, the odds are you know the name Danica Patrick.
The trailblazing racecar driver has been exposed to a global audience through Super Bowl commercials, modeling shoots and other mainstream partnerships. She's helped IndyCar and NASCAR spread their audiences beyond core racing fans.
That brand awareness hasn't been lost in the video game space. A few years ago Patrick worked with Activision to promote its racing game, "Blur." And she is one of the featured drivers in both of Activision's licensed NASCAR console games.
Now she's partnered with Sega for its new arcade racing game, "Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed." Gamers can race Patrick's converting vehicle -- it flies, drives and floats -- against popular Sega characters like Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails and Dr. Robotnick. Gamers can even put her up against Disney's Wreck-It Ralph for a virtual race.
Patrick, who was recently named Nationwide's most popular driver by NASCAR fans, took some time to play the new Sega game and talk about her own gaming background in this exclusive interview for CNN.
How big of a gamer were growing up and what did you play?
I played a lot of games growing up, as any kid naturally would do. I played "Sonic." I played "Super Mario Bros." I played any kind of racing game that existed, I played "Track and Field." I shot some ducks with "Duck Hunt."
Do you have a favorite Sonic the Hedgehog memory from back then that you can share with us?
Can anyone really remember that far back? I think more than anything what I remember is playing the games when I would be on the road racing go karts, and being in my van when I went to the track with my family and playing with my friends at the track. I remember the places more than I remember exact memories about the games.
What's it like being featured in "Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed?"
It's really neat to be a player in it, especially being such a famous game, such an iconic game. Being able to be able to be a player along with Sonic the Hedgehog and all the other All-Stars is very flattering and it's very cool. It comes full circle.
How does this compare to seeing yourself in NASCAR games?
NASCAR seems like it's kind of a shoe-in for me. So to be in something like a Sega game is to me more cool because it's something that's not common, and it's not given that I would be in those games. So I actually like it better.
What tips or strategies would you give to anyone who is going to play "Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed?"
My suggestion would be to first off, pick me to play me because I'll be a really good one to choose. I'll be fast and I have lots of skills and talents and I shoot balls of flames. It disables cars and allows you to be able to get by them. I think you need to find out for yourself how awesome I am in the game.
How popular are video games in NASCAR?
Video games are pretty popular, for sure. I think given the fact that we're in a racing environment, racing games tend to be something that's obviously really common, so growing up I've played them and some people continue to play them and I think it's a good fit.
What games are popular on the field these days during the rain delays?
I know a lot of drivers play iRacing, which is more of an online thing.
What impact do you think the hand-eye coordination required in video games has helped drivers become better in real racing?
Playing games and being an adult race car driver, I think it's more of a mental thing. If you think it helps you then it does, but I don't know. I need to feel the G-forces. For me, it's more about having fun outside of the car than it is about actually helping to be able to drive it. If that was the case, then everyone would just play games. And that's not a prerequisite to driving a race car.
Do you think that racing simulators help NASCAR drivers at all?
I do think that they can. I think that when you take it to the next level and these simulators that cost millions of dollars, I think they can be helpful. I've tried them, but there's nothing like the real thing. I know Formula One teams tend to do that quite a bit. It's not prevalent here in the States with NASCAR or IndyCar, so I don't. But if it's in your head that it's going to help you to play a simulator or play a racing game, then it will help.
Do you have a favorite piece of technology that you can't live without?
Well, that's the phone. I mean let's face it. What the heck did we do before cell phones?