Female Engineers Were Key Players Behind IndyCar 3-Win Streak
Oct 14, 2021 · 3 min read
When IndyCar racing comes back to Mid-Ohio, a fourth victory for the women in motorsports may be possible. The last three victories in open-tire IndyCar racing have been, in part, made possible by female engineers on those teams.
In a male-dominated sport, female engineers are finding their place among IndyCar teams. IndyCar racing relies on mechanical engineers to maximize car performance, and more women every year are working in these roles, according to Associated Press.
Two women play key roles for Chip Ganassi Racing
Chip Ganassi is a well-known name in open-tire racing circles. IndyCar teams under the umbrella of Chip Ganassi Racing have dominated raceways.
Ganassi has four engineers in total, and two of them are women. Danielle Shepherd and Angela Ashmore are both engineers for their respective teams. According to Associated Press, both women grew up around racing. Ashmore once had aspirations of being a race car driver.
Shepherd got her start at KV Racing soon after graduation and found herself in a team meeting with Jimmy Vassar, her favorite driver. From cheering him on in the stands to being a part of his team, Shepherd has lived every race fan's dream. She became the first woman to go over the wall and be part of the hands-on pit crew in a recent race.
Ashmore helped Marcus Ericsson win his first career race. Ashmore took her mechanical engineering degree from Chrysler to NASCAR, and now to open-tire racing with IndyCar.
Both women are aiming for lead engineer jobs. With their credentials and these wins under their belts, it may not be long until they reach their goals.
Honda Performance and Arrow McLaren SP credit female engineers with wins
Nicole Rotondo stood in the winner's circle with Ashmore and Marcus Ericsson. As a trackside race engineer with Honda Performance, Rotondo is in the trenches with drivers and pit crews. Her win came in Detroit.
Kate Gundlach is an engineer with Arrow McLaren SP, one of the premiere names in performance. Pato O'Ward won the XPEL 375 in Texas, and Gundlach was one of the engineers that made it possible.
The last three races have all featured winners with female engineers on their teams.
Firestone has a female director for race tire engineering
In 2019, Cara Adams was promoted to director of race tire engineering, development, and manufacturing at Firestone. She worked through the ranks for 18 years for that position, and found herself working closely with IndyCar teams; Firestone is IndyCar's racing tire partner.
Adams has been credited with opening doors for female engineers in IndyCar. She has cultivated a welcoming atmosphere in the open-tire racing industry for women. Adams has helped drive the increasing number of women in engineering or STEM-related positions within IndyCar, rather than the more traditional public relations or marketing positions.
Mid-Ohio is Danielle Shepherd's home track, and Cara Adams is from Ohio. For a team with a female engineer to take a win there would certainly be a proud moment worth celebrating. Even if a win isn't in the cards at Mid-Ohio, female engineers are paving the way for women who dream of a career in motorsports.
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