Jamie Chadwick has been racing’s most obvious success story when it comes to women in motorsport, and after securing every single W Series Championship in the sport’s existence, she’s moving on to a new challenge. She’ll be the first woman to compete in Indy NXT — formerly known as Indy Lights, the junior open-wheel category just below IndyCar — in a whopping 13 years when she hits the grid with Andretti Autosport in 2023.
It’s a sensible move for Chadwick. The free-to-enter W Series provided her with a place to regularly compete, but unfortunately, she wasn’t able to amass enough funding to progress into an F1 ladder series like Formula 2 or Formula 3. Indy NXT is another great option, since the barriers to entry are a little less complex than you’ll find in European categories.
Andretti Autosport, too, is an excellent team. It won the Indy Lights team Championship in 2022, and it plays a competitive role in IndyCar proper. While she’ll still retain her ties with Williams Racing in Formula 1, it has grown more and more unlikely that Chadwick will actually end up in the highest level of European open-wheel racing for multiple reasons, including experience, sponsorship, and age.
Chadwick joining the series is exciting — but it also highlights just how rare it is to see a woman in active motorsport. Andretti Autosport’s email release proudly notes that Chadwick is the first woman to race full time in Indy NXT in 13 years. That last full-time driver was Pippa Mann, who contested with Panther Racing in 2009 and finished 14th overall in the championship. The following year, a handful of appearances from Carmen Jorda and Mann marked the last time a woman competed in the series in any capacity. Chadwick’s presence will be much anticipated.