Former Verizon IndyCar Series team owner and driver Sarah Fisher will have the best seat in the house for much of this year’s 2016 racing season.
IndyCar officials announced Wednesday that Fisher will serve as pace car driver for 14 of the season’s 16 races. She’ll assume her new duties for this Sunday’s season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in Florida.
“We couldn’t be more excited to have Sarah Fisher serve as a pace car driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series this year,” INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations Jay Frye said in a media release. “Sarah’s been an integral part of INDYCAR as both a driver and a team owner and having her in this role is a tremendous asset to the Verizon IndyCar Series.”
In 2002, the then 19-year-old Fisher became the youngest female driver to qualify for and race in the Indianapolis 500.
She still holds the track qualifying record at Kentucky Speedway (set in 2002), making her the first female in history to ever win a pole for an Indy Car event.
“I’ve lived for the sport of Indy car racing and when Jay (Frye) offered me the position to pace the field, I didn’t think twice about my commitment again to the sport that I love,” Fisher said in a statement.
Johnny Rutherford, who has served as primary pace car driver for the series since 1996, will scale back to just two races in 2016: next month’s race at Phoenix and for the landmark 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in May.
“Having worked with J.R. when I was a rookie (driver), and to follow in his footprints now is just an incredible honor,” said Fisher, who made 81 starts as a driver in the IndyCar Series before retiring after the 2010 season.