One of the better parts about the Indianapolis 500 over the last decade or so is that there have become multiple female drivers in the field on a regular basis.
It’s back to two this year after a one-year dip to just one, with Simona de Silvestro and Pippa Mann both completing successful qualifying attempts for the 99th Indianapolis 500. De Silvestro is set to roll off 19th, Mann 27th next Sunday.
Both drivers bounced back nicely after adversity early during practice week threatened to set them both back.
De Silvestro’s car suffered a fuel leak which led to a fire; Mann had an accident exiting Turn 4. Both crews repaired their cars – in Mann’s case building up a new backup – and they returned to the tracks.
Mann is set to make her fourth ‘500 start, third straight with Dale Coyne Racing and second straight in the pink No. 63 Susan G. Komen Honda. Mann is also doing a #GetInvolved campaign to raise funding and awareness for breast cancer, with more info linked here.
“This is absolutely incredible; it’s hard to describe how amazing the Dale Coyne Racing crew guys are,” Mann said. “When I crashed the main car we didn’t have a backup car. We didn’t even have a spare tub sitting around. It was an absolute monumental effort. It’s so important to have this car in the show with the money we are racing for the Susan G. Komen campaign.”
De Silvestro will make her fifth ‘500 start, and returns after a year’s hiatus missing last year’s race. She’s now driving for one of the top teams in Andretti Autosport, and her No. 29 TE Connectivity Honda should be a car to watch. She is the 2010 Indianapolis 500 rookie-of-the-year, with a 14th place finish.
“It’s the trickiest four laps you have to do, you’re always hanging on out there,” de Silvestro said. “I’m always more nervous for qualifying. I’m happy to be in the show, Andretti did an incredible job to get the car together again. Qualifying was OK, it’s going to be really good in race trim, I think.”
As for the multiple females, it marks the eighth time in the last nine years this has happened. Here’s a recent history of females in the race, dating 10 years back to 2005:
- 2014: Pippa Mann
- 2013: Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Katherine Legge, Ana Beatriz
- 2012: Simona de Silvestro, Katherine Legge, Ana Beatriz
- 2011: Danica Patrick, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz
- 2010: Danica Patrick, Simona de Silvestro, Sarah Fisher, Ana Beatriz (Milka Duno did not qualify)
- 2009: Danica Patrick, Sarah Fisher, Milka Duno
- 2008: Danica Patrick, Sarah Fisher, Milka Duno
- 2007: Danica Patrick, Sarah Fisher, Milka Duno
- 2006: Danica Patrick
- 2005: Danica Patrick
The weekend also featured the launch of the new Grace Autosport team, led by Beth Paretta with Legge set to drive in 2016, which seeks to become the first all-female team on the grid.