IndyCar has announced that the all-female Paretta Autosport team will compete at the 2021 Indianapolis 500 later this year as part of its “Race for Equality and Change”.
The new team will be headed up by motor sport executive Beth Paretta with Simona De Silvestro fulfilling driving duties. It will be a Chevrolet outfit with technical support offered by Team Penske.
Female mechanics will make up the crew, in line with Paretta’s aim to provide positions for women in the sport across competition, operational and administrative divisions.
Paretta has previously worked at Fiat Chrysler as director of marketing and operations as well as overseeing successful racing programmes in NASCAR and Le Mans as a director at Dodge SRT, most recently with its IMSA WeatherTech effort.
Back in 2015, Paretta launched the Grace Autosport team aimed at promoting STEM education to young girls and helping to create career paths into motor racing.
In a statement, Paretta said that the new team was a strong statement and collaboration with IndyCar and that it could be the foundations for real change in the series when it comes to greater opportunity for women.
“Today is the beginning of a commitment to gender equity in sport, to encourage women to work hard so they can earn their seat at the table or spot on the grid,” she said.
“IndyCar has been a leader and a welcoming place for women for many years because of the hard work of many women and men before us, but now we have a stronger commitment with IndyCar’s ‘Race for Equality & Change’ to make sure opportunities continue in the future.
“Our team, along with our technical alliance with Team Penske, will work hard to give Simona the best car we can provide so she can achieve her best results. Competition drives us. The Indy 500 is the greatest race in the world, and one day soon we hope to have a woman’s face on the Borg-Warner Trophy.”
De Silvestro has plenty of prior IndyCar experience. She earned Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year in 2010, competed in four full seasons between 2010 and 2013 and made several one-off appearances in 2015.
Since then, the Swiss driver has taken up a Sauber F1 role as an affiliated driver, competed in Formula E for Andretti Autosport during the 2015/16 season before switching to Australian Supercars. In 2020, de Silvestro competed in the ADAC GT Masters championship having become a Porsche factory driver.
“I am very excited to have this incredible opportunity to return to Indianapolis and the Indy 500 with Paretta Autosport this year,” De Silvestro said.
“My career really took off through my time competing in IndyCar and the Indy 500, so returning to compete with Beth and her new team in alliance with Team Penske is a special and rare chance in my career. Being part of the goal of diversity and inclusion for everyone, and especially women in IndyCar, and in motorsports in general, is very important to me and how I would like to see the future of racing.
“I want to thank the IndyCar Series for taking such an important leadership role in providing gender and overall diversity inclusion in motorsports.”
The 105th Indy 500 is set to take place on 30 May.