It's Been A Damn Good Week For Women In Motorsport

Illustration for article titled It's Been A Damn Good Week For Women In Motorsport
Photo: Brian Cleary (Getty Images)

Women have dominated headlines across motorsport publications this week, and for some damn good reasons. Countless incredible racers are getting rides in series across the globe, including some names that have been absent from racing for a while or are just making their debut. We’ll run you through some of the biggest moments you need to know about.

I’d love to make one quick personal note before we take off, though. I’ve been covering women in racing for a few years now, and I legitimately cannot remember the last time so many women were announced to be taking on some of the biggest races of the year. I don’t know if it’s ever happened before. I’ve always been of the opinion that the main thing women need to prove themselves in racing is the mere opportunity to do so, and we’re seeing that in droves this week. Can I get a big “hell yeah”?

Simona de Silvestro In The Indy 500

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After a few years tackling everything from Formula E to Australian Supercars, the Iron Maiden is back for another go in the IndyCar series. She’s been signed to a female-fronted team led by Beth Paretta (who has also led racing programs at FCA), the duo intending to take on the 2021 Indy 500.

This is another facet of IndyCar’s recent diversity push that also saw the introduction of the first Black-owned team in Indy Lights. Paretta Autosport will be its own entity, but it will also share a technical alliance with Team Penske, one of the heavyweights of motorsport.

Even better, the team is hoping to hire as much female talent as possible for roles as engineers, mechanics, media members, and more. It’s a great way to showcase just what women are capable of.

Katherine Legge and Christina Nielsen Team Up For Rolex 24

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Katherine Legge and Christina Nielsen are two of the most badass racers to get behind the wheel of a sports car. They’ve teamed up in the past to tackle some of the biggest events in the world, and now they’re doing it again for Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway behind the wheel of their Porsche 911 GT3 .

If you’ve never heard of these two women, you may need to brush up on your motorsport knowledge. Legge has a track record in just about everything: IndyCar, Formula E, the Jaguar i-Pace electric series, Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters touring cars, NASCAR, and more. Nielsen was the first woman to ever win an IMSA world championship, which she did back-to-back in 2016 and 2017.

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And while it’s still unconfirmed, there are rumors that these two will run the rest of the IMSA endurance season.

Iron Dames To Make World Endurance Championship

Iron Dames, the all-female contingent of the Iron Lynx GTE-Am team in the European Le Mans Series, is coming for a whole season of World Endurance Championship racing. The No. 85 Ferrari 488 GTE Evos will be driven by Rahel Frey, Manuela Gostner, and Michelle Gatting.

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The trio first partnered up in 2019, and they’ve been taking on races together ever since—including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Now, instead of only entering the ELMS series, the women will compete for glory on a global stage alongside the larger Iron Lynx contingent.

Richard Mille Takes On All-Female LMP2 Lineup

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Another all-female team is making its full-season World Endurance Championship debut this year. Richard Mille Racing has signed Sophie Floersch, Tatiana Calderon, and Beitske Visser in the LMP2 category. They first paired up in 2020 for ELMS but will also be making a global debut this year.

This is the first time there have ever been two all-female teams competing in WEC for a full season.

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FIA Girls On Track Announces Its Winner

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The FIA Girls on Track Rising Stars offered young female drivers a chance to compete for a full season in the Ferrari Driver Academy. In addition to on-track skills, these women undergo education in STEM fields and learn how to be the best possible racer they can be. Everything was evaluated to declare the winner who got that FDA ride: Maya Weug.

16-year-old Weug is the first-ever female member of the Ferrari Driver Academy. With this program taking place each year, the goal is to create a cohesive link between feeder series and higher-level forms of motorsport like Formula One.

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In addition, Lola Lovinfosse, who also competed in the Girls on Track program but didn’t make it to the final, has been signed on to the Spanish F4 series. When women are able to show off their skills, there’s all the more reason to realize how damn good they are behind the wheel.

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Formula 4 Covers Entrance Fees For Women

Formula Regional Americas and United States Formula 4 have launched a scholarship designed to cover the entry costs for a female or other minority driver in the regional open-wheel series. Inspired by Formula Regional European Championship’s 2021 move to reduce car limit caps on teams that run a female driver, it will be implemented immediately,

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Again, this is a great way to break down at least one of the many barriers that traditionally keep women from being able to enter a regional motorsport discipline.

There’s already a list of candidates, and finalists will be announced in coming weeks.

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Gracie Trotter Takes On NASCAR Feeder Series

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Gracie Trotter, who became the first woman to win an ARCA West race in 2020, has accepted a part-time position with Venturini Motorsport in the ARCA East series and a few other races in the ARCA Menards Series.

(As a reminder, ARCA’s main schedule is composed of 20 races. Some of those races are included in the regional East or West championships. The regional series often involve six to eight races and have their own champion separate from the overall ARCA Menards Series. Basically, they’re three separate championships that have a similar name and occasionally share a race track.)

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With Hailie Deegan also taking on the NASCAR Truck Series, we’ll have plenty of women to follow in the NASCAR feeder series.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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DISCUSSION

The momentum is building nicely, long may it continue, the more women able to show their skills the better. W-series supporting F1 races is another example of how females in motorsport are really starting to make serious inroads, rather than just being one-off “special events”. If a few of these ladies can grab the opportunity and score some great results that will only help accelerate things further.