Grace Autosport, the first all-female IndyCar Series racing team, announced plans to compete in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. From the team owner to race engineers, aerodynamicists and the drive, to marketing and public relations directors, the women of Grace Autosport will be on the grid for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on May 29, 2016.
Grace Autosport will spearhead a one-of-a-kind racing program with a focused educational initiative, which looks to create and inspire future champions and leaders in motorsports. The goal of this all-female racing team is not only to empower women in motorsports, but to encourage a new generation of women to pursue careers in STEM (science/technology/engineering/math). Grace also hopes its program and platform attracts a new fan base to IndyCar racing and the Indianapolis 500 race, the largest sporting event in the world.
“The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been the scene for many automotive firsts,” said Grace Team Principal, Beth Paretta of The Paretta Co. and former motorsports director for SRT Motorsports/Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. “It makes it so special to have the opportunity to launch our team here. For us, true success will be measured by how many girls and women we can encourage to pursue a STEM career. Having said that, we are here to win and our goal within 10 years is to make sure a woman’s face will grace the BorgWarner trophy.”
Katherine Legge, a two-time Indy 500 competitor, has been named as the inaugural driver. Her firsts as a female racer have spanned single-seater and sports car racing. Legge’s diverse racing history includes British Formula Fords, Toyota Atlantics, Champ Car/IndyCar, IMSA sports cars, DTM and Formula E racing.
“I am very proud to be a part of this new and exciting team. To me it’s more than just racing, it’s the start of something much bigger; a movement within the sport,” said Legge. “This is something I’ve been very passionate about for a very long time. Racing is my life-long passion and the drive to compete in the Indy 500 has been there since the very beginning. Being able to combine my enthusiasm for racing with the goal of empowering young women to pursue STEM subjects is a dream come true. It will be interesting to see it all unfold from the beginning and I have no doubt we will be successful.”
Additional team members include: Catherine Crawford, aerodynamicist, principal of Crawford Composites and one of the few women around the globe supervising a race team, which she currently does in the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship; Lauren Elkins, motorsports engineer, track support technician and data analysis manager, who brings multiple years in IndyCar and sports car racing to the team; Jessica Rowe, a junior design engineer with a variety of race experience, both at track and in the design office; and Barbara Burns, a skilled motorsport professional specializing in communications, public relations, event management and media training for young professional athletes and drivers.
“It is wonderful to see an inspirational team with such an impressive depth of experience and knowledge,” said Michele Mouton, president of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission. “The fact the team is led by women in many of the key roles showcases the fact everyone can have a place in motorsport. Equality is there. Young women should be encouraged to seek the opportunities; this team again demonstrates that gender does not have to be a barrier in relation to success in all areas of racing.”