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VICS: Grace Autosport To Debut At Next Year’s Indy 500

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Several females have made their mark in the Indianapolis 500. In the driving department, Janet Guthrie was the first to make the grid in 1977 and finished in the top ten one year later. Lyn St. James was Rookie of the Year in the 1992 race. Sarah Fisher currently holds the women’s closed course record here and the most starts for a female driver, while Danica Patrick came extremely close to winning the race as a rookie in 2005. Women have also had success in ownership. Linda Conti’s team finished fifth in the 1999 race with Robby McGehee. However, never before has there been an effort where women have completely run everything from top to bottom. Not solely owning the team and driving the car, but also handling the engineering and work on pit road and in Gasoline Alley too. That could change in 2016, when the Grace Autosport team joins the grid at the Speedway.

The team’s creation was announced in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway press room on Friday with team manager Beth Paretta and driver Katherine Legge fielding questions from the media. Paretta is no stranger to the sport of auto racing in terms of management and behind the scenes work. Up until the end of last year, she was the Operations and Marketing Director for the successful Dodge SRT Viper program, which claimed the driver and team championship last season in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s GT Le Mans division. Legge also has a history in a driving role. The British based pilot was the first woman to ever win a major American open wheel race and has competed in both the Champ Car World Series and the Verizon IndyCar Series, including two starts in the Indianapolis 500. Legge currently is a full time driver in United SportsCar competition for DeltaWing Racing. Both are looking forward to the new challenge ahead of them, whilst also seeking to increase interest among women and girls in the sport of auto racing, not just as fans but as participants as well.

“(Our goal) is to create and inspire current and future racing champions, to get girls and young women excited about careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and hopefully to bring new fans to racing.” Paretta said on Friday. “We will create an environment that will welcome and train engineers, mechanics, and crew. We will push to work hard and be competitive.”

According to Paretta, at least one sponsor for the program is already in place, while others are being sought to extend Grace Autosport outside of just participation in the Indianapolis 500, but to hopefully a full run in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship in the future. The team is also expected to be assisted in the early running by another organization already on the circuit, but also that information along with a selection of engine manufacturer has not been made.

“This is something I am extremely proud to be a part of.” Legge admitted on Friday. “It’s going to be a new initiative from the point of view that there has never been a team of all women. We’re trying to make this a positive thing, get rid of a stigma of being a womant in motorsport.”

Stay tuned to Rubbings Racing for all news and updates from the month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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About Matt Embury

Matt Embury is the Senior SportsCar Writer at Rubbings Racing and can be followed on Twitter (@MattEmbury) for the latest sports car news and opinions. A native of Mishawaka, Indiana, he has been following sports car racing for nearly 20 years.

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