Race Weekend Essentials: Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward

Few racing drivers can claim to have their own line of pyjamas…

Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward is one of the most exciting drivers in motorsport on and off the track.

In the car, he’s a four-time winner and five-time polesitter. Off the track he’s bouncing between his native Mexico, his home in Texas and McLaren’s base in Indianapolis and having a lot of fun while he’s doing it.

With a killer social media, a well-stocked merch-store and a super-fun persona, Pato was always going to be high on Podium Life’s list of stars to interview.

And his team, Arrow McLaren, are doing the best job in the IndyCar Series of presenting its drivers to its fans in new, fun and engaging ways.

Here, Pato he gives us his Race Weekend Essentials. Learn about hand-painted trainers, ‘Fondo’, and even an O’Ward merch exclusive below.

What kind of necessities do you have for travelling?

I do like to travel with my Leica camera for cool pictures or whatever. I mean, it’s not like ‘holy shit, I forgot it at home I have to go get it’ kind of thing. But it definitely goes everywhere I go.

My headphones, so I’m not bored on a flight and I can listen to at least music, I use the Bose headset. Obviously my ID, without an ID I can’t get on a flight! And a charger. Honestly, if I have those things, I can get around with no issues.

Any jewelry or brands that you love that you always travel with, watches, that sort of thing?

I don’t often wear jewelry. You’ll rarely see me wearing a watch, and if you do, it’s because I’m representing a brand I really love.

Very rarely you might see me with a necklace or bracelets if they were given to me that day. I have so many great fans and sometimes they’ll give me gifts, which is really cool.

I do carry my sunglasses, I’m a big Tom Ford guy. I think they’re very high quality. They’re very comfortable. They are not crazily overpriced when you compare it to Cartier or something.

They’re really, really good, I got a pair like a year ago and I haven’t gone to any other brands since just because they’ve just been very enjoyable to use.

I do carry a black hat everywhere. Just a solid black hat.

And I love to travel with a carry on size luggage but sadly since I live in three different places a lot of the time I’m checking in a bag so that isn’t always the case.

Hydrating-wise when I’m travelling, I always have my Electrolit, and when I want a refreshing drink after a long day or something I take Topo Chico with lime and salt. Very good.

I can eat Mexican food for any meal, breakfast, lunch or dinner, and when I’m making it myself, I stay true to the brand and go with Mission Foods.

Speaking of Electrolit, you’ve been given two pairs of hand-painted Nike sneakers this year, one Electrolit-style and one like your Indy 500 helmet. Why Air Force 1s?

So I love shoes. I use Nike shoes a lot. It doesn’t matter if it’s for workouts or just casual walking around or, wearing with a casual outfit or whatever, I use them a lot.

I’m a big fan of Air Force 1s, the Dunks, the Jordans, I’m definitely a fan of those Nike sneakers. Why were they Air Force 1s? I didn’t ask for Air Force 1s. They were like, well, we want to do Air Force 1s, what size are you? And I love Air Force 1s, so I’m not gonna complain!

So I’ve got a fairly large collection of Air Force 1s and just Nike shoes in general.

Can you walk us through your team kit for a race weekend?

So my helmet. I’ve always been Arai or die. It is a Japanese helmet. It is by far the best looking and most comfortable helmet on the market. And honestly, the service that they’ve given me is, honestly, anything I need, anything I want they support. So I’m a proud Arai driver.

In terms of suits and underwear and gloves, Sparco has been the provider for McLaren for a lot of years.

Also for me from, honestly since I remember, since 2018 I’ve been wearing Sparco and very light, very comfortable suits. I got to go to the factory a couple of years ago which was a really cool experience to see how they built all that and yeah, that’s my kit.

Are you superstitious, and do you carry anything because of that?

I’m not very superstitious. I feel I can get superstitious. If maybe I did something new and then all of a sudden like, things are falling down and they’re just not going as they used to if I change some sort of routine, so maybe I’ll think twice about what I’ve changed.

But ultimately, I’m not superstitious. I have a routine kind of thing, but I don’t think of like, oh, I have to do this, I think I do everything every week slightly differently. It’s not all identical. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never been superstitious, but in reality, it’s very minimal.

If you had to choose one or two items from your merch store, what would they be and why?

My favourite would definitely be the PO Pyjamas (you can buy the shirt, pants and/or shorts from Pato’s merch store).

Where did the idea for the pajamas come about?

So my mom has an online store that has women’s pajamas and I was like, why don’t you do any men’s, like I need pajamas! So then we reached out to the supplier that provides her because they are the most amazing women’s pajamas you’ll ever see.

And, I was like well, I want some man pajamas or actually not just for men but like unisex so being able to be worn by both. And then I want them simple, mostly all black. Maybe my logo here and there, but they’re awesome.

They’re made from bamboo, they’re eco-friendly and they are freaking awesome. Like everybody I’ve given a set to is like ‘holy shit, I wear these every night’. Tony Kanaan wears them every night. So definitely that’d be the first item that I would get.

And secondly, probably one of the bamboo sweaters or pullovers, basically that’s the ninja collection, the pyjamas are part of the ninja collection because they’re all black and the bamboo pullover or hoodie as well.

I’d probably go with that if I had to find two or three items it’d be the pyjamas, one of the pullovers and one of the caps probably.

What about the 720s you got when you signed your new contract, do you still have it?

I’m keeping that thing, it is going to be with me forever. That is like a milestone for me. I’ve always wanted to drive for a badass brand and well, I’m doing that.

And then I got a car from that brand, and I literally customised every single piece that is on that car and I love it to death. I’m obviously keeping that forever. And that is my toy at home.

So obviously you picked everything like the baby blue colour, are there any details about it fans might not know?

So MSO [McLaren Special Operations – order a customised 720s like Pato’s here] liked calling it the Fondo Special because on the throttle I put Fondo with an exclamation point.

That basically has two terms, either people are going full out partying, or people are going full throttle, it has a double meaning.

For next year, I’m going to do a merch line that is in-sync with my 720, so I feel like people are gonna love that. So I’m excited to announce that in the coming months.

Images courtesy of Penske Entertainment, IndyCar