New all-female team, Grace Autosport, announced Friday at IMS

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Beth Paretta, who has spent a significant amount of time in several motorsports programs, and Katherine Legge, who has had diverse motorsports driving experience in open-wheel and sports car racing, were on hand at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to announce Grace Autosport, which seeks to be the first all-female team in motorsports.

The full news release is below.

More to follow later today following the press conference at IMS.

source:
Grace Autosport logo (PRNewsFoto/Grace Autosport)

Grace Autosport, the first all-female IndyCar Series racing team, announced their plans today to compete in 100th the running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. From team owner to race engineers to aerodynamicists to the driver 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 motorsport. The goal of this pioneering all-female racing team is not only to empower women in motorsport, 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 Company 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 is within 10 years 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 has spanned single-seater and sports car racing. The native Brit’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.”

Grace Autosport will continue to provide updates with regards to team sponsors and personnel in the months to come. For more information, please visit www.graceautosport.com.

Female racer makes history with record finishes in dirt national midget events

Photo courtesy Toyota Racing
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Holly Shelton is riding high after setting a milestone for a female driver in a national midget series feature event on dirt this past weekend.

The Sacramento, California-area resident recorded the highest finish ever for a female dirt national midget series driver with a runner-up finish last Friday at the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League double-header weekend at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Missouri.

Shelton broke her own national record for top finish by a woman in a national dirt event – she finished third in a USAC race at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, last year.

One night after setting her new national record, Shelton and her Keith Kunz Motorsports Toyota roared back Saturday to finish third (started on the outside pole) in the second half of the weekend double-header, making her the first female dirt driver ever on the national midget circuit to earn back-to-back podium finishes.

“It’s cool making history as a female, but my number one thing is I just want to win,” said Shelton, who will be graduating from Cal-State Sacramento with a B.A. in Criminal Justice this fall. “Truthfully, on the track I don’t even remember that I’m a girl. I’m just racing all the guys with the same goal they have – to win.”

Only one other woman has finished second in either a USAC or POWRi midget feature – Sarah McCune at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway in 1999 – but that was on pavement, not dirt.

The record-setting weekend was great consolation for Shelton, who missed three races earlier this season due to surgery and then sat out three other races last month after suffering a race-related concussion.

“It felt good,” she said of her back-to-back podium finishes. “It builds up my confidence. The car is fast and we keep getting better and we want to build on it.”

Shelton was one of four women that competed in midget competition this weekend. The others were 19-year-old Maria Cofer and 16-year-olds Holley Hollan and Presley Truedson.

“It’s awesome seeing all the little girls come up to me excited to see me at the track,” Shelton said. “Hopefully, it encourages them to pursue their dreams as well and, as the years go on, more girls will get into it.”

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