INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Beth Paretta has a vision for her new IndyCar team. She wants to send the first woman …
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Beth Paretta has a vision for her new IndyCar team.
She wants to send the first female driver to the winning streak of the Indianapolis 500 with the support of a predominantly female cast. And then Paretta hopes to turn it into a full-time pipeline for women in racing.
On Tuesday, it announced the creation of Paretta Autosport and the intention to run in Indianapolis this May. More races could be added later this year in the hopes of making it to every IndyCar race next season.
“I didn’t grow up in a racing family, I grew up a racing fanatic and I couldn’t have imagined it,” Paretta said at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “It is this idea when you find something you love and work hard on. Maybe the result isn’t a racing team, but there is a place you can fit in. There is something there for you. “
Paretta definitely wants to have an impact on girls who may feel left out in a largely male-dominated sport.
But she also wants to send another message: Don’t give up big dreams.
Paretta took this route before when it announced that it would form an all-female team with rider Katherine Legge to qualify for the 100th run of the 500 in May 2016. However, when Paretta’s team couldn’t find a suitable car a few weeks before the race, the effort stalled.
“The car we had was really not worth racing,” she said. “Could we let it go? May be. However, with a program like this there is an additional exam. “
Now she’s back with a five-time 500 starter, Simona de Silvestro, and support from Team Penske, the most successful team in Indy history. The team founded by series owner Roger Penske will provide technical support for Paretta Autosport and the two will initially work together at Penske’s headquarters in North Carolina.
The 32-year-old Swiss driver and Indy 500 rookie of the year 2010 will try to qualify for the traditional starting grid with 33 vehicles in the No. 16 Chevrolet.
De Silvestro finished a career high in 14th place in 2010, but most recently joined Indy in 2015 when she finished 19th with Michael Andretti’s team. She has also competed in Australian supercars, Formula E and IMSA SportsCars. She was also a development driver in Formula 1 and has been a works driver at Porsche since 2019.
“I think it will be my best opportunity yet, if everyone involved believes in the same goals so that we can be successful in May,” said De Silvestro. “And I hope it inspires more women to follow their dreams.”
The announcement comes less than three months before IndyCar’s season opener in Birmingham, Alabama, and less than five months after the rescheduled 500 drove without a driver for the first time since 1999. This year’s 500 is scheduled for May 30th.
The plan goes well beyond De Silvestro.
Paretta intends to hire women in all facets of the operation – competition, administration, logistics, marketing and public relations. And the blueprint fits IndyCar’s commitment to create more diversity in sport.
When De Silvestro starts the race, Paretta would join a long list of female owners to compete in Indy – a list that included MA Yagle, who owned the winning car in 1929, the late Mari Hulman George and owner Sarah Fisher, Janet Guthrie, include and Lyn St. James among others.
“This is a powerful moment that fulfills our goals for Racing for Equality and Change,” said Jimmie McMillian, IndyCar’s chief diversity officer. “We want to create a pipeline for engineers, owners, drivers and leading a team with the help of Mr. Penske and Tim Cindric. This is very important because I think once we get this pipeline up and running, I don’t think it will stop. “
For Paretta, it is another chapter in a pioneering career.
She was an executive at Street and Racing Technology and was hired by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles as the first female director to lead a performance brand and motorsport for an original equipment manufacturer. In that role, Paretta played three championship seasons from 2012 to 2014, including Penske’s first title in the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series.
Paretta is also a board member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, but has a bigger goal.
“Our team, along with our technical alliance with Team Penske, will work hard to bring Simona the best car we can provide so that she can get her best results,” said Paretta. “The Indy 500 is the biggest race in the world and one day we hope to have a woman’s face on the Borg-Warner Trophy.”
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