NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – From lead tire engineer to CEO to driver, women are taking over IndyCar.
One woman instrumental in creating change in the sport actually put together a 30-man racing team comprised of 20 women.
“In any given day, at a trade show or at a business conference, you might meet ten people named, “Dave” but you met one “Beth,” so you’re more likely to remember me,” said Beth Paretta, Team Principal and CEO of Paretta Autosport – the first-of-its-kind women-lead racing team.
“There are women in racing. There are many of us,” said Paretta. “But I knew that if we put a lot of women in racing on one team, it would be a much more compelling visual for people to see there are women in racing. If you see us sort of scattered about, it might not click the same, but you put us on one team and it makes a difference.”
Having women on a team in general, whether its one or 20, also makes a difference.
“Sometimes getting outside perspective makes you better, gives you different ideas that you maybe haven’t thought of. It’s that age-old idea of, we’ve always done it this way. Well, maybe sometimes there’s new ways of doing things.”
Speaking of a new way, the chief engineer of Bridgestone tires is a woman. Cara Adams was the only female engineer traveling for IndyCar when she first started. Which, as you can imagine, is a lot of pressure.
“I always felt like I needed to try to outperform the boys, I felt like I needed to work twice as hard, but the really beautiful thing about racing is racing respects results,” said Adams. “It doesn’t matter what you look like, who you are, whether you’re male or female, black or white. If you make the best tires and you design the fastest car, the race car doesn’t know whether you’re male or female.”
As the daughter of a science teacher and the granddaughter of a mechanical engineer for NASA, the path toward engineering always made sense. But this need to prove you belong in a room full of men is something many women feel in male-dominated industries.
“I think any woman who has ever been one of one in a room or one of a few, usually we work pretty hard because we want to make sure we’ve done our homework,” said Paretta. “We want to make sure that we’ve earned our spot there.”
They certainly earned their spot in this year’s Indy 500.
“I grew up in Norway and I had people calling me from Norway saying, “I just can’t believe you’re part of this and you guys are making a difference and my little granddaughter is looking up to you,”‘ said Paretta Autosport spotter and driver Ayal Agren. “It makes it feel even more special.”
But you might be surprised to learn the goal is not necessarily to have an all-female team.
“Who I’ve done this for is young women maybe 10 years old to 15 years old because it shows that women can work together. We can work hard, work together and sometimes beat the boys,” said Paretta. “That’s alright and I also think it’s good for men to see that, too because when men can see that we’re working side-by-side, the same long hours, the same difficult days, the same highs and lows. So seeing us work together I think is the best message of all.”