At the 2010 Indianapolis 500, there were 5 female racers; Danica Patrick, Sarah Fisher, Ana Beatriz and Simona de Silvestro raced, while Milka Duno did not make the qualifying cut. Three decades earlier, Janet Guthrie broke barriers at the Brickyard by racing in the Indy 500 from 1977 to 1979.
Yet, at the 2020 Indianapolis 500, there were no female racers. That hadn’t happened in 20 years. Gender equality in racing seemed to have taken a step backwards last year.
Enter Penske and the IndyCar Series Race For Equality and Change program. It’s a major effort to support diversity and inclusivity in IndyCar. A key element of Race for Equality and Change program is a $1 million fund to fuel initiatives that will create fundamental change. Penske put his money where his mouth is. One of IndyCar’s top teams, Penske Racing has provided training and support to an all-female team entered into this year’s race, giving them a fair shot at qualifying.
Today, the No. 16 Rocket Pro TPO / Paretta Autosport Chevrolet will attempt to qualify for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing with Simona De Silvestro at the wheel.
This is a completely different approach that the FIA’s W-Series in which top female racers compete against each other, hoping to gain the attention of a Formula 1 team. The Race for Equality & Change Program provided the money and the knowledge to give an all-female team an equal chance to compete in a top open-wheel series.
Good luck to Simona Di Silvestro and her No. 16 Rocket Pro Chevrolet at Indianapolis in the race for equality and change.