Tuesday, May 30, 2023

In the Indianapolis 500, fewer and fewer women want to participate


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Katherine Legge recalls running again in the Indianapolis 500 a decade ago and felt a sense of satisfaction as she walked down Gasoline Alley knowing she wasn’t alone.

It was the third four-year record of four women in a 33-car race.

“That was the time of Sarah Fisher and then Danica Patrick came and you know, Simona de Silvestro and I and I thought snowball and grow,” Legge commented before taking a breath. “But it didn’t happen.”

Instead, Legge is the only female driver to start on Sunday.

The women’s movement, which began with the appreciation of Janet Guthrie in 1977 and was followed by a contract with Lyn S. James in the 1980s, began to advance with Patrick’s arrival in the 2000s. For 2020, not only were there no female drivers for the first time since 1999, but also for the first time since 1991, none attempted to qualify.

De Silvestro kicks off the 2021 edition with an all-female team, Paretta Autosport. But last year there were no women and Legge studied to qualify this year after cracking in practice. The 42-year-old Briton will start from the penultimate row in the 167th edition of the race and has only had nine women in more than a decade.

“It’s really bad, don’t you think,” Legge asked. “I thought it would be more. I mean, there are only nine of us who have ever done the Indy 500. I hope one day nine will be on the grid.”

It’s not like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

But how did the moment that began to emerge in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway come to an abrupt halt?

At the lowest level, when pilots are under six years old, there are still fewer girls than boys who are exposed to more intense harassment. Legge recalled that there were times when it was so bad that he thought about leaving.

At the highest level, drivers often have to apply for their sponsorships in order to receive funding in the IndyCar program. This can be difficult in a male-dominated sport.

But a woman can be given a car just as quickly as a man.

“If you have good people, good opportunities, it’s awesome,” Fisher said, “but you can’t force this, because there are big risks in the game.”

Nation World News Desk
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