The Paretta Autosport entry in today's Indianapolis 500 is set to make history in one of the biggest and longest running motorsports events in the world.
The Penske-affiliated team has confirmed that it will be fielding a female-dominated pit crew in the race working on driver Simona De Silvestro's car. There's never been a team fielding a pit crew consisting of a majority of women in the 110 year history of the event.
The team was founded with the express intention of giving women and young girls the opportunity to to compete and progress in the male-dominated motorsports industry.
Almost five months of preparation and training have led to the selection of four women to the seven-person team going over the wall, with Caitlyn Brown in charge of the left front wheel changes, Madison Conrad at the left rear, and Amanda Frayer their counterpart at the right rear.
Mallorie Muller will also be on the crew which will be rounded out by Clint Cummings on fuel, Chris Fry handling the air jack and crew chief Vance Welker taking charge of the right front.
Team owner Beth Paretta wanted to develop home grown talent rather than simply going out and poaching female mechanics already established in the industry.
“It’s a definitely proud moment to have so many women go over the wall,” de Silvestro told RACER magazine. “They’ve worked so hard to achieve that.
""They’ve done the work to be as fast as the men, so from that point, we’re super proud of them,” she continued. “I think we’ll have an amazing race together and really show the world that anything is possible.”
All seven members of the pit crew, male and female, were selected on merit.
“Those ladies are killing it here and it’s really cool to see," commented AJ Foyt Racing driver JR Hildebrand on the podcast he hosts for The Race website.
“They’re here because they think it’s badass and they’re good at it," he added. "It’s cool to see that attitude coming through."
“If you’re at Indianapolis and you’re a dad with a young daughter, walk by their pit area and make sure you get a good look at those ladies jumping over the wall because they look on-point."
The pit crew members have been arriving at Penske's training facility as early as 5am to get ready for this historic weekend.
Over the course the preparations, the all-female group managed to lower their pit stop times from an initial 17s to an average of 5.5s with a moving car.
Four of the seven were selected to make it through to today’s race line-up, with the remaining three hoping to get a chance to take part in a second race for the team later in the season.
As well as Paretta, there will be two women going over the wall for other teams. Pit crew veterans like Anna Chatten and Jessica Mace will be turning out for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Andretti Autosport respectively.
Today will be de Silvestro's sixth time racing in the Indy 500. She made her debut in 2010 with HVM Racing which saw her finish in 14th place. her most recent appearance was in 2015 with Andretti before turning her attention to supercars and GT3.
The Swiss driver will start from 33rd place on the grid after making it into the field on the last day of qualifying, and will be starting alongside Will Power and Sage Karam.
Ganassi driver Scott Dixon starts from pole with Andretti's Colton Herta and Ed Carpenter Racing's Rinus VeeKay joining him on the front row, with 135,000 spectators set to attend the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
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