Squeakers: Dixon Edges Herta for Pole; Simona Makes the Grid

Don’t play King of the Mountain with Scott Dixon. You will lose. Colton herta and Rinus VeeKay tried to knock Dixon off the pole for next Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. They came close, but couldn’t do it. Dixon won his fourth Indianapolis 500 pole by just 0,0197 seconds, 0.03 miles an hour. Just moments before, Herta had knocked Rinus Veekay off the pole by 0.0966 seconds, 0.1 miles an hour.

Scott dixon pulls in after his pole winning run. Photo by Tim Holle, Indycar

It was a history making front row. It is the youngest front row in history, despite Dixon’s advanced age of 40.. VeeKay is the youngest front row starter in history. Today’s pole is Dixon’s fourth at Indianapolis, tying him for second place all time with A. J. Foyt, Rex Mays, and Helio Castroneves. Dixon also won the pole for the 500 in 2008, 2015, and 2017.

The rest of the Fast nine saw several drivers change spots from yesterday. Helio Castroneves went from sixth to eighth, Tony Kanaan went from third to fifth. Alex Palou moved from seventh to sixth, and Ryan Hunter-Reay went from eighth to fifth.

VeeKay had a big wiggle in turn 1 on his lap, but he saved it to complete the lap. The bobble may have cost him the pole. VeeKay qualified fourth last year and now starts third. He is the fastest Chevy in the field again.

The first three rows have a mix of drivers that represent former series champions and 500 winners and the younger generation of drivers. Five of the first nine drivers are 40 or older and represent six 500 victories. Three are in their early twenties. Marcus Ericsson is 30.

The Last Row- Power’s Close Call

In the Last Chance Shootout, the biggest drama came on Will power’s qualifying run when his right rear tire hit the outside wall. It was a glancing blow and he completed the run to qualify for the middle of the last row. I heard that the tow link was broken, which meant he would have had to withdraw his time to repair it and possibly not have another chance to make the field. next Sunday will be Power’s worst career start will be Power’s worst career start.

Simona DeSilvestro made her qualifying run, then sat in her car for the remaining hour of the Last Chance period to see if she would need to go again. Neither Charlie Kimball nor R C Enerson had anything close to her speed. kimBall took two shots at her time, but didn’t come close.

Kimball had started the 500 for 10 consecutive years through 2020. Enerson, a rookie, and his new team, accomplished a lot just by putting a car together and having it run a qualifying set.

DeSilvestro’s team, Paretta Autosport, is a team consisting 75% or women on the crew, some of whom will be working the pits on race day. It is great to have a woman back in the field for the 500.

Beth Paretta, team owner, watches nervously as Simona DeSilvestro qualifies.Phot by James Black, Indycar
Simona DeSilvestro waves to the crowd after clinching the final starting spot. Photo by Joe Skibinski, Indycar

I will have some thoughts on the qualifying weekend tomorrow. I wish to thank everyone for following along this weekend, which set a viewership record. I appreciate all of you.

Revisited: Bump Tales- Janet Guthrie Hits a Wall Then Knocks Another One Down

Above: Janet Guthrie after qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 in 1977, becoming the first woman to drive in the race.  Photo from Indystar archives.

Editor’s note: In honor of Paretta Autosport and their team of mostly women mechanics and engineers, and  Simona de Silvestro’ s return to the the Indianapolis 500, I am rerunningthis Bump Tales from 2019.

On May 10, 1977, Janet Guthrie had to be wondering why she had entered the  Indianapolis 500.  In 1976, she couldn’t get up to speed. A. J. Foyt loaned her one of his backup cars for a shakedown test. She turned laps good enough to make the race. But it was just a test. The car she was assigned wasn’t fast enough.

Now, early in May, 1977, she had hit the wall. Her team, owned by Rolla Vollstedt, repaired the car, but a second weekend qualifying run looked more likely than the upcoming opening day of qualifying. She struggled to get above 179 mph. it would take a speed in the 180s to make the 1977 race.

Reader Marcia Ann Conder shared these two photos of her father, Larry Conder, assisting Guthrie after her crash. Conder was a fireman at IMS for 40 years. Thanks, Marcia, for the photos.60747620_2049092421885812_8734681045779087360_n

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Guthrie earned a degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan and began racing SCCA events in 1963. In 1976 she became the first woman to drive in a NASCAR superspeedway race, finishing 15 in the Charlotte World 600. Earlier in 1977 she entered the Daytona 500 and finished 12th, earning Rookie of the Year honors.

The week after Pole Day was a long one as the team searched for speed. The third day of qualifying passed with Guthrie next in line as the gun went off. She would be first in line on Sunday, Bump Day. The field wasn’t filled yet, so she just had to get in with the best speed possible without the added pressure of beating someone else’s time.

Guthrie qualified easily with an average of 188.403. Her time was the fastest of the day and she would start the race in the middle of row nine. Guthrie said had the car not crashed she could have easily qualified at 191 mph.

Within a year, Janet Guthrie became the first woman to drive in both a NASCAR  superspeedway race and the Indianapolis 500.

Her spot in the field presented Tony Hulman with a dilemma. He needed to change the command to start the race. Hulman prefaced the traditional command with, “In company of the first woman to start at Indianapolis,” before “Gentleman start your engines.” In subsequent years, the command, when necessary, became, “Lady(ies) and gentleman, start your engines.”

The race itself was not great for Guthrie. A cranky engine had her making numerous pit stops. She retired on lap 74, finishing 29th. I remember the crowd cheered every time she drove past my section.

Guthrie race in just two more 500s, finishing ninth in 1978. She participated in 11 Indycar races overall with a best finish of 5th at Milwaukee in 1979.. Guthrie also drove a total of 33 NASCAR races. Her best finish was sixth at Bristol in 1977.

Eight other women have driven in the Indianapolis 500 since Guthrie’s rookie year. Danica Patrick is the only one to have led the race.

1977 capped a decade and a half of transitions at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race went from roadsters to all rear engine cars, the front stretch was paved to just a yard of bricks, and speeds began to approach 200 mph. More changes would be coming. It would still take another 14 years before the last driver barrier would be broken.

ESPN will air “Qualified,” a 30 for 30 documentary about Janet Guthrie Tuesday, May 28,  at 9 pm EDT.

Paretta Autosport Gets Rocket Pro TPO Sponsorship; Some Notes of Fan Interest

Paretta Autosport, the all female team which began last July as part of Indycar’s Race for Equality and Change, today announced Rocket Pro TPO as the main sponsor for their one off Indianapolis 500 entry. 500 veteran Simona De Silvestro will drive the car. The team is expected to participate in the open test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway April 8 and 9.

“Having Rocket Pro TPO come onboard as our primary sponsor for this year’s Indy 500 is a perfect partnership,” said Beth Paretta, CEO/team principal of Paretta Autosport. “We are both huge proponents of highlighting the power of women, while also using technology and speed to be the best at what we do. I cannot wait for what we will be able to accomplish as a team – both on and off the track.”

Rocket Pro is a division of Rocket Mortgage. The press release also noted,

“Together, Rocket Pro TPO, Paretta and De Silvestro will partner on the ‘Rocket Accelerator’ multimedia campaign. The group will use unique and innovative ways to amplify women in the mortgage lending and racing spaces by showcasing female leaders who are thriving in these industries.”

Paretta Autosport has a technical partnership with Team Penske.

Notes

Single day tickets for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg went on sale today.

Fans will be allowed to view next week’s open test at IMS from the turn 2 mounds.

The Road to Indy has Spring Training at barber motorsports today. Good news for the return of Indy Lights- 13 cars are entered for the tes.

Money Lion First Sponsor for Paretta Autosport

Money Lion is the first associate sponsor for Paretta Autosport, the number 16 car in the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 to be driven by Simona DeSilvestro. The announcement comes on International Women’s day. Sponsorship activation will include several initiatives under Money Lion’s “Women Who Roar” campaign.

The news release:

MoneyLion Launches Its “Women Who Roar” Campaign in Partnership with Paretta Autosport Focused on Leveling the Playing Field for Women Across Finance, Science and Technology

Indianapolis, Ind. (March 8, 2021) -Paretta Autosport and MoneyLion announced today that the financial platform, where hardworking Americans can bank, borrow, save and invest – all within one app, will become the first team sponsor of the No. 16 Chevy-powered INDYCAR at this year’s Indianapolis 500. Paretta is the first female owned, female driven, and female forward race team in the sport.

Paretta Autosport began earlier this year as part of Indycar’s Race for Equality and Change. The team has a technical partnership with Team Penske.

To further the INDYCAR’s “Race for Equality and Change” initiative announced last year, and in honor of International Women’s Day, MoneyLion and Paretta Autosport are also partnering to launch MoneyLion’s “Women Who Roar” campaign to advance financial empowerment, support women’s careers and level the playing field for women across a number of areas in finance, science and technology.

Paretta Autosport will enter the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 30, with 2010 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Simona De Silvestro.

MoneyLion’s “Women Who Roar” campaign features:

  • Play Like a Girl Mentorship Program: MoneyLion and Paretta Autosport have committed to creating a unique Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) mentorship program for nonprofit, Play Like a Girl. This program will connect middle and high school girls with female leaders in the fintech and motorsports industries. It will also include a new “Here Women Roar” female executive leadership chapter of the organization focused on mentoring teenage girls about technology through customized fintech challenges. Not only will the partnership offer students career guidance, but it will bring them on-site to see their mentors in action, broadening their horizons on potential future careers. MoneyLion mentors will also participate in Play Like a Girl’s Women’s Leadership Summit on March 19.
  • “Women Who Roar” LinkedIn Group: Launching on March 16, MoneyLion is creating a space where women in the workforce can have candid conversations about issues such as financial wellness, mentorship and the wage gap.
  • “Women Who Roar” Conversation Series: MoneyLion is also launching a special conversation series, which includes in-depth interviews with eight influential female leaders, starting with Beth Paretta, CEO and Team Principal of Paretta Autosport, and Simona De Silvestro. The “Women Who Roar” series will air on Cheddar.com beginning on March 16 and explores women trailblazers’ career paths and advice for the next generation of female leaders.

“MoneyLion is committed to providing the financial products, educational resources and mentorship that’s much needed to level the playing field for today’s workforce and future generations of female leaders,” said Samantha Roady, MoneyLion Chief Operating Officer. “Beth Paretta has built an incredible, inspiring team with Simona as the driver. We’re proud to support a female-owned and operated business and to shine a light on inspiring women’s professional achievements through our sponsorship. We look forward to working closely with the team to bring ‘Women Who Roar’ to life.”

After decades of progress, COVID-19 lockdowns have forced many working women to stay home, fundamentally challenging their responsibilities as professionals and primary caregivers. For the first time in modern history, women are losing more jobs and have higher unemployment than men – exacerbating the existing wage gap.

“MoneyLion can contribute to the recovery from this she-cession by standing for ‘Women Who Roar,’” said Roady. “This partnership with Paretta is a first step in that wider campaign.”

“We’re thrilled to align with MoneyLion because of our shared ideals,” said Beth Paretta, CEO/team principal of Paretta Autosport. “MoneyLion’s focus on empowering women through improved financial access and literacy is a direct parallel to our mission of helping women advance their careers. We’re pleased that MoneyLion sees the value of our women-forward racing program and greatly look forward to being a part of their ‘Women Who Roar’ campaign.”

Automotive and motorsport executive Beth Paretta has a long history in leadership roles with some of the most respected automotive and performance brands, including FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), Aston Martin and Volkswagen Group. She led successful racing programs and earned three national championships during her tenure at FCA. She is also aboard member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

“We welcome the support of finance and technology giants like MoneyLion to help us advance our mission to drive diversity and meaningful change for girls and women,” says Dr. Kimberly Clay, founder & CEO, Play Like a Girl. “Building a diverse pipeline of young women in STEM is a major priority for us. We’re thrilled to partner with MoneyLion and Paretta Autosport to support this work and our community.”

To learn more, please visit www.MoneyLion.com, www.ParettaAutosport.com and www.iplaylikeagirl.org.

Media Contacts:
MoneyLion: Iris Leung at pr@moneylion.com; 917.623.5919
Paretta Autosport: Barbara J. Burns at media@parettaautosport.com; 770.329.7134
Play Like a Girl: D. Channing Muller at channing@dcmcommunications.com; 202.744.5228

About MoneyLion
MoneyLion is a mobile banking and financial membership platform that empowers people to take control of their finances. Since its launch in 2013, MoneyLion has engaged with 7.5 million hard-working Americans and has earned its members’ trust by building a full-service digital platform to deliver mobile banking, lending, and investment solutions. From a single app, members can get a 360-degree snapshot of their financial lives and have access to personalized tips and tools to build and improve their credit and achieve everyday savings. MoneyLion is headquartered in New York City, with offices in San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Sioux Falls, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. MoneyLion has achieved various awards of recognition including the 2020 Forbes FinTech 50, Aite group best digital Wealth Management Multi product offering, Finovate Award for Best DigitalBank 2019, Benzinga FinTech Awards winner for Innovation in Personal Finance 2019 and the Webby Awards 2019 People’s Voice Award. For more information, please visit www.moneylion.com or download the app.

About Paretta Autosport
Paretta Autosport is a new team competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. With a technical alliance with Team Penske, they will attempt to qualify and compete in the 2021 Indy 500 and beyond. More than racing, Paretta Auto sport is an initiative to encourage and mentor young girls and women to pursue careers in STEM-related fields. The team will incorporate women in key roles: mechanics, engineers, marketing, business operations, and more. Created by female automotive and motorsports executive Beth Paretta, the team is part of the INDYCAR series’ “Race for Equality & Change” initiative.

At Paretta Autosport, the competitive spirit drives us. We work hard and always strive for better: for ourselves, for our team, and for others. For more information, go to www.parettaautosport.com.

About Play Like a Girl
Play Like a Girl!® is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded on the belief that girls provided with the opportunity to play on a team become women with the confidence to stand on their own. We envision a world where the playing field is level and every girl reaches her full potential and are creating programs to leverage the skills girls gain from sport to propel them into competitive, male-dominated careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). We collaborate with schools, corporations and other partner organizations to deliver a coordinated, multi-year program model through which middle school girls experience practical lessons in leadership and engage in hands-on STEM education through the lens of a confidence-building curriculum, while being exposed to inspiring women coaches, mentors and role models. Since its founding in 2004, Play Like a Girl has benefited more than 50,000 girls and women across the world. Learn how you can get involved with this Nashville-based organization at iplaylikeagirl.org, and connect with us on Insta

Season Opener Moving to April 18; Shown on NBC

The shift was bound to happen. As reported by other sources last night, The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park has been moved to April 18. The move allows the race to be on NBC rather than NBCSN. Barber is till the season opener and the Firestone Grand Prix of St, Petersburg follows a week later.

The NTT Indycar Series now begins its season with three consecutive weekends and four races. Following St. Pete, the series goes to Texas for a Saturday/Sunday doubleheader May 1 and 2.

Activity begins at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway May 14 with GMR Grand Prix weekend.

End of Schedule Changes?

I wouldn’t count on it. With rumblings that the Olympics will be cancelled, NBC Sports networks will have a lot of time to fill. Like last year, Indycar now has some fallback dates. I doubt that any new races will be added, but Indycar has to do something to stay in public view between the Toronto race on July 11 and the Music City Grand Prix August 8.

Today’s move is the third schedule change and the season hasn’t started. Last year there were six schedule changes.

Race for Equality and Change Taking Proactive Approach

This week’s announcement of Paretta Autosport with technical assistance from Team Penske adds another dimension to the Race for Equality and Change. Paired with Force Indy, which intends to promote African Americans in the sport, the REC is attempting to expand the reach and appeal of Indycar.

Beth Paretta’s experience and her contacts in motorsports is a plus for the new team.

Beth Paretta

Bringing Simona De Silvestro back to the Indianapolis 500 is a great move. De Silvestro has endured all kinds of misfortune at IMS from fire to uncompetitive cars. This might be her best shot at success.

Simona De Silvestro

The next step for the Race fo Equality and Change is to bring other interested teams and individuals. I would love to see Jacki Henricher become involved with Indycar.

Paretta Autosport Brings Female-Led Team to Indy; DeSilvestro Returns to the 500

Simona De Silvestro returns to the Indianapolis 500 with Paretta Autosport, headed by Beth P.aretta. The team will receive technical support from Team Penske. More details later.

The announcement from Indycar:

Paretta Autosport, a new NTT INDYCAR SERIES race team spearheaded by female automotive and motorsport executive Beth Paretta, has announced its entry for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

2010 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Simona De Silvestro has been announced as the driver for Paretta Autosport, which will utilize Chevrolet power and run the No. 16 for this year’s legendary “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” The 32-year-old from Switzerland is a veteran of five Indianapolis 500 starts.

The team is an extension of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s “Race for Equality & Change” announced last July. Team Penske will provide technical support to Paretta Autosport in assisting in the preparation for competing in the race Sunday, May 30.

Paretta Autosport will integrate women in the team to ensure that it provides opportunities, including competition, operations and administrative roles such as logistics, marketing and public relations.

“Today is the beginning of a commitment to gender equity in sport, to encourage women to work hard so they can earn their seat at the table or spot on the grid,” Paretta Autosport Team Principal Beth Paretta said. “INDYCAR has been a leader and a welcoming place for women for many years because of the hard work of many women and men before us, but now we have a stronger commitment with INDYCAR’s ‘Race for Equality & Change’ to make sure opportunities continue in the future.

“Our team, along with our technical alliance with Team Penske, will work hard to give Simona the best car we can provide so she can achieve her best results. Competition drives us. The Indy 500 is the greatest race in the world, and one day soon we hope to have a woman’s face on the Borg-Warner Trophy.”

Said Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp.: “We are pleased to welcome Beth and her Paretta Autosport team to INDYCAR this year. Her team’s addition to the INDYCAR ‘Race for Equality & Change’ program this year will ensure that INDYCAR and the Indianapolis 500 continues the legacy of having a female driver qualify for the 2021 Indy 500. Of course, it will be up to Simona and the team to qualify the car for the grid, but knowing Beth, I know that her team will be up for the task.”

Paretta has a long history as an automotive and motorsports executive in leadership roles with some of the most respected performance brands, including SRT (Street and Racing Technology) at FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), where she was the first female director to lead a performance brand and motorsports for an original equipment manufacturer. In that role, she led successful racing programs that earned three national championships: the NASCAR Cup Series championship for Dodge with Team Penske in 2012, the IMSA GTLM championship with the factory Viper GTS-R program in 2014, and the Trans Am championship with the Dodge Challenger TA2 in 2014. She is also a board member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

In addition to her Rookie of the Year honors in 2010, De Silvestro also captured the Tony Renna Firestone Rising Star Award for her 14th-place finish. Her accomplishments throughout the motorsports world are numerous after competing in Australian Supercars, as a Formula One development driver, in Formula E, the IMSA SportsCar Championship and, since 2019, as a factory driver for Porsche.

“I am very excited to have this incredible opportunity to return to Indianapolis and the Indy 500 with Paretta Autosport this year,” De Silvestro said. “My career really took off through my time competing in INDYCAR and the Indy 500, so returning to compete with Beth and her new team in alliance with Team Penske is a special and rare chance in my career. Being part of the goal of diversity and inclusion for everyone, and especially women in INDYCAR, and in motorsports in general, is very important to me and how I would like to see the future of racing. I want to thank the NTT INDYCAR SERIES for taking such an important leadership role in providing gender and overall diversity inclusion in motorsports.”