All-female Grace Autosport team launched for 2016 Indianapolis 500

An all-female team has announced plans to enter next year's Indianapolis 500 to help promote technology and engineering as a career path for young women

All-female Grace Autosport team launched for 2016 Indianapolis 500

The team, which was launched in Indianapolis on Friday under the Grace Autosport banner, has been assembled with females holding all senior positions, starting with team principal Beth Paretta, aerodynamicist and race engineer Catherine Crawford, and design engineer Jessica Rowe.

Katherine Legge has been signed up to drive the car.

"Gender inclusion is an important issue," said Paretta.

"Since the Indianapolis 500 began, there have only been 11 different women who have competed, women like Janet Guthrie and Lyn St James.

"For their hard work, for their challenging days, we say thank you. Without them, there would be no today.

"The Brickyard has been the site of a lot of firsts, and now we are adding to that list.

"But ultimately we know racing is about being competitive and winning. We will put the team together to get there.

"We will work hard to compete at the highest level, and our goal is that by the end of the decade a woman's face will grace the Borg-Warner Trophy."

In addition to its race activities, the team intends to be active off the track with community outreach with the hope of making racing seem more accessible to female fans, and of inspiring women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"It's going to be a new initiative from the point of view there's been female drivers before, there's been female engineers - I actually worked with Catherine in 2012 at Indy - but there's never been a team of all-women," said Legge.

"What we're trying to do is make it a positive thing, get rid of the stigma of being a woman in motorsport and make it something that everybody is very proud of.

"It's going to be very successful. So I'm very much looking forward to the challenge to seeing it from the beginning, from an idea, kind of turn out and bloom into something very special."

The team already has the support of the FIA's Women in Motorsport Commission, and Paretta said that she expects to announce a sponsor soon.

It is likely to run in partnership with an existing team, with hopes of eventually expanding into a full-time IndyCar programme, and potentially into other categories as well.

"The first expansion certainly would be do a full season in IndyCar," Paretta said.

"And then in time could it expand? We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

"But I think the wonderful thing about this platform is it can be we can expand all over the world into any series because it's an initiative, and it's certainly not unique to this series.

"But we chose this series because of the platform, because of the stage, because it also has been very welcoming to women in the past.

"And it's really the biggest message, the biggest race in the world."

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