It was obvious from the widespread media coverage of former Formula One development driver Carmen Jorda’s comments earlier this month that some women in the motorsports industry are far more recognized and talked about than others, for whatever reason. It’s about time we change that.
Racing is made up of predominantly men, and women as a whole tend to get boiled down to the few women people talking about or covering the sport can name. That’s why we constantly see headlines with phrases about young female racers being “the next Danica Patrick” and so on.
Jorda is one of those names, which is why her comments about Formula E cars being easier and “less physical” for women to drive than F1 cars dominated the news results on Google searches while the overwhelming amount of rebuttals from women in the motorsports community barely made a ripple.
Because people seem to continually fall back on the few female names they know for talking points about racing—Patrick, Jorda, and, really, not many others—we thought it best to get more names out there.
Here are some incredible things women in the racing industry are up to lately. If you have anything you’d like to see added to this kind of roundup in the future, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or find @alanisnking on Twitter.
Pippa Mann Confirms Her Indianapolis 500 Ride
Pippa Mann, who’s started one of motorsport’s biggest racing events six times, announced Tuesday that she’ll attempt her seventh Indianapolis 500 in May with Dale Coyne Racing. She’ll race in a paint scheme with organ-donation nonprofit Donate Life Indiana as the primary sponsor, different from her usual Susan G. Komen car for breast-cancer awareness.
Here’s some stats on Mann’s Indy career, from Motorsport.com:
Mann, who took pole for the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2010, made her IndyCar debut at IMS the following year with Eric Bachelart’s Conquest Racing team, starting 31st and finishing 20th.
However, since then, Mann’s five Indy entries have all been with Dale Coyne Racing, her best starting position being 22nd in 2014, with a best finish of 17th just last year. Her best finishes in the 15 oval races in which she has taken part in IndyCar were P13s at Fontana and Pocono in 2015.
Mann became the first woman to break 230 mph around Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year, hitting just over 230.1 mph in practice before the Indy 500. She’s the perfect person to represent women in the race, since she never holds back how she feels about women in motorsport.
An All-Female Team Wins At The Mint 400
Before this month’s Mint 400, one of the biggest off-road races of the year that runs 400 miles near Las Vegas, the all-women team of Julie Boyer and Journee Richardson talked to local news outlet Fox 5. Boyer told the station that only seven of the more than 400 entries in the race were women, and they were two of those women—on the same team. They then won their class.
Boyer and Richardson raced an all-pink off-roader for the event in support of breast cancer awareness, running in the 2000 class against one other team. The two told Fox 5 about some of the difficulties of being a woman in the off-road scene, because, like Boyer put it in the interview, they’re both trying to break barriers in a traditionally male sport. From Fox 5:
On Saturday, the all-women team will take to the course in their signature off-roader in their signature color: pink.
“We got our pink axles ... even down to the pink zip ties you got to show all that off,” Journee Richardson said.
“Most people are pretty surprised when women are working on their cars they will say, ‘Why don’t you put your husband on the phone,’ and I have to say, ‘no no no,’” Boyer said.
“Julie and I started this team to show women can also do this,” Richardson said.
And they certainly can.
IMSA Champion Christina Nielsen Has A Confirmed Le Mans Ride
Between the Lego set honoring her IMSA championships and getting a ride for her third-consecutive start in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it sounds like Christina Nielsen is having a decent few weeks. Nielsen will race one of motorsport’s biggest events for Porsche, her new team, in a 911 RSR.
Nielsen’s raced her other two Le Mans starts with Ferrari, and she set some records then. From the March 6 announcement on her Le Mans entry:
In 2016, Christina Nielsen was the first Danish female to enter the most important endurance race in the world. ...
Nielsen is currently part of Porsche Motorsport’s new program where she is a “Selected Driver” representing North America, and the first female in Porsche’s history to be officially associated with the factory.
“I’m super happy to go back to Le Mans,” Nielsen confirmed. “It’s one of those races that a driver dreams about doing at least once in their lifetime. Being able to say, at the age of 26, that I’m going to my third Le Mans is definitely pretty amazing. I’m excited to compete with the current mid-engine Porsche 911 RSR — that’s a first for me and definitely one of the biggest wishes that will come true.”
The news about Nielsen’s Le Mans start came in the few days after Jorda’s comments, which she didn’t exactly agree with.
Teenage Driver Sophia Floersch Tests A Formula 3 Car In Portugal
Sophia Floersch, a 17-year-old driver from Germany, had her first test in a Formula 3 car last week. Motorsport.com reports that so far in her racing career, Floersch has gone from karts to the Ginetta Junior championship, a one-make series on the British Touring Car Championship ladder. She then stepped up to German Formula 4 in 2016 and 2017, with two podium finishes last season.
Floersch tested in a Dallara-Mercedes race car with Van Amersfoort Racing, a development team that’s been around since 1975. She ran laps at Portugal’s Algarve Circuit with Artem Petrov and Keyvan Andres, who Motorsport.com reports are both on the team’s 2018 driver lineup.
The team is also looking to add a third driver, according to Motorsport.com:
VAR boss Frits van Amersfoort told Motorsport.com: “We have deals with two drivers and of course we’d like to have another.
“Sophia showed some real speed in F4 last season and that’s promising. We’re keen to develop her into a fast F3 driver, just as we did with Rahel Frey [who raced in German F3 with the team in 2008], who I rate really highly.” ...
“Hopefully Thursday will be dry [weather, after another test was cut short] and then we will evaluate what will happen with Sophia.”
Floersch said on Twitter her first day in an F3 car was an “incredible feeling.”
Aurora Straus Delays Harvard Admission To Race
Teenage sports-car racer and friend of Jalopnik, Aurora Straus, got into Harvard University and planned to study mechanical engineering and English literature while pursuing a racing career. She’s now delaying that admission to fully focus on racing, according to The New York Post.
Straus runs in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and she’s racing the Pirelli World Challenge at Circuit of The Americas this weekend. She started racing after her dad signed her up for driving school to learn car control in order to drive in the New York winters. Her first experience didn’t go well, with other people in the class running faster than she did and an instructor telling her she’d never be as aggressive as she needed to be because she was a woman.
She showed him just how incorrect that statement was, and she’ll keep on doing it—with Harvard waiting for her later.
Tatiana Calderon Is Still Focused On Her GP3 Series Program
The Sauber F1 team announced that it would promote Tatiana Calderon from development to test driver this year, meaning she’ll train in simulators and in F1 cars on site during several race weekends this season.
But that doesn’t mean she’ll let it distract from current racing commitments, which include the GP3 Series on the F1 ladder. From a Q&A Calderon did with Motorsport.com:
Your title at the team has changed, but what has changed about the role?
“I will keep doing my simulator work, travelling with the team, assist with all the technical meetings, and to obviously test a Formula 1 car is the next step. And with GP3 I need to earn that chance as well.”
Frederic Vasseur said you need to focus on GP3 this year when he was asked about you. How hard is it to do that when you’re doing this role with Sauber?
“It’s not easy, but I think that the year I have of experience last year, I have my priorities really clear for this year. Fred has also made it clear, we need to deliver, and for that reason I won’t be with the team on the GP3 weekends.
“I’m fully focussed on my programme, and last year really helped me to be ready for this step up mentally.”
Calderon hasn’t tested a real F1 car yet, but she told Motorsport.com in the Q&A that she’s “dreamed of that moment for years.” She’s just “waiting for the team to give [her] that chance to prove that [she] can deliver.”
The FIA Women’s Commission Launches A Karting Program For Women
The FIA Women in Motorsport Commission announced a new karting program at the Geneva Motor Show to attempt to get teenage women involved in racing. Former F1 driver Susie Wolff and Calderon are the ambassadors for the program.
The program, “Girls on Track,” is for female drivers ages 13 to 18 and hopes to reach more than 3,000 people, according to an FIA announcement from earlier this month:
The Girls On Track aims to promote and develop the presence of young women in motorsport at grassroots level using karting slalom, a cost-effective and easy to set up format. ... This new project falls into line with the ambition of the Women In Motorsport Commission to create a motorsport culture which facilitates and values the full participation of women in all aspects of motorsport.
During the first year, the karting slalom events set up in central urban locations, will be promoted to young females between 13 and 18 years old at a national level within eight European ASN ... partner countries (Belgium, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Sweden). ...
In March 2019, the three selected girls from each country’s events will then pit themselves against each other at the European Final in Le Mans for the chance to be among the six drivers selected for the European Team. The six winners will attend the FIA Driver Training Camps, where they will be supported by the FIA through a sporting and educational programme. The programme will end with a closing event in Brussels in fall 2019.
According to the announcement, a sociological analysis of the success of the program will happen in order to “make recommendations to the sport’s stakeholders and public institutions ... on how to increase their level of female participation and fight gender stereotypes.” That sounds like a good deal.
Amna Al Qubaisi Gets Sponsorship For Debut Formula 4 Season
In May of last year, The National reported that United Arab Emirates native Amna Al Qubaisi would become the first Emirati woman to race in the Formula 4 European division this year. She has sponsors for her F4 debut now, according to trade publication Women’s Wear Daily: Italia Independent and Garage Italia.
Amna Al Qubaisi, a 17 year old student is the first Emirati female driver to represent the UAE at an International Motorsport event while competing at the RMC Grand Finals in Portugal in 2015. Amna has been competing in the UAE RMC since 2014 and X30 since 2015.
Amna has recently won the UAE RMC Championship, 3rd at the UAE IAME X30 Challenge, 1st at the GCC YDA Programme, and won the UAE Teen Fitness Awards.
Amna Al Qubaisi’s nickname in racing is “the flying girl,” according to Women’s Wear Daily. That sounds like an accurate description.
Go ahead and remember these names, because this probably won’t be the last time you read about them.