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Veterans Lyn St. James and Beth Paretta are involved in initiative, and all jobs have been made available for women.

COURTESY PHOTO: PARETTA AUTOSPORT - Beth Paretta is one of the women behind the initiative Women in Motorsports, which seeks to place more women on racing teams, including in IndyCar Series.If you walk down the NTT IndyCar Series pit row at this weekend's Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway, you might notice that there are more women employed by the racing teams than in prior years.

That's a direct result of the Women in Motorsports initiative embraced by many of the teams, and by IndyCar generally.

COURTESY PHOTO: CINDI LUX - Cindi Lux"Any position available on a race team is open to a female," says 14-time road racing champion and team owner Cindi Lux, whose Lux Performance Group is based in Aloha. "There are so many other avenues besides just the driver on professional teams these days. That's kind of what the journey is, to really open up these doors."

To open those doors to professional careers, industry veterans Lyn St. James and Beth Paretta founded Women in Motorsports North America. St. James is a retired driver with experience ranging from Indy cars to Le Mans. Paretta is a former auto industry executive who now owns the Paretta Autosport team in IndyCar. "If you have that passion and that love for racing, there's a place for you in this sport," Paretta says. "That's why Lyn and I started this, to try to profile all the jobs. We don't talk enough about the layers of racing, like being an official or being safety personnel. All of those things make the show happen and all of those people love racing as much as we do."

COURTESY PHOTO: CHIP GANASSI RACING - Interns with Women in Motorsports monitor drivers and car performance from the pits.When the topic of equity in motorsports comes up, most people think about racing drivers like Lux, St. James, or Danica Patrick. Driving is important, but there are dozens of other jobs in professional racing for every spot in the driver's seat.

Among the many women who will be filling critical roles at this weekend's IndyCar race is Angela Ashmore, who earlier this year became the first woman on a team that won the Indianapolis 500 when Marcus Ericsson crossed the bricks in first place.

"My role is assistant engineer," Ashmore says. "My job is all about the data acquisition on the car, all the electronics and collecting data from hundreds of sensors on the car."

Ashmore came to Chip Ganassi Racing and IndyCar three years ago, following five years as an engineer with a NASCAR team, and experience in the automotive industry before that.

COURTESY PHOTO: CHIP GANASSI RACING - Angela Ashmore"When I first got started, I didn't find it easy to fit in," Ashmore explains. "I felt like I had to work a little bit harder to prove myself, and get people to understand that I knew what I was doing. I worked hard to be there and I earned an opportunity just like anyone else."

Ashmore and others are helping to change the sport from the inside. The Ganassi team partnered with their sponsor PNC Bank to create a campaign to build awareness for Women in Racing and to hire five female interns to work with the Ganassi IndyCar team for the 2022 season. "We saw a lot of potential in not just having more people but smart people with new ideas and perspectives and it was very, very cool to experience," said Ganassi driver Scott Dixon. "Our interns were able to jump straight in and even brought up different formats in terms of data analysis that we hadn't looked at before. They asked questions that made you think in a different way so honestly, it worked amazingly."

Applications are now open for Ganassi's Women in Motorsports 2023 internship program — at chipganassiracing.com/wim2023 — but there are many more opportunities out there. The Women in Motorsports North America organization maintains a job board — womeninmotorsportsna.com/employme — with listings from every branch of racing.

"This isn't about women at the expense of men," Paretta insists. "It's not about taking someone else's seat at the table. It's about building a longer table. We're better together. I always say, I don't want my team to be 100% women. I want women on 100% of the teams."

The Grand Prix of Portland is happening at PIR this weekend, September 2-4. The schedule includes the NTT IndyCar Series, Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, and the ARCA Menards Series West.

For ticket pricing, grandstand seating locations and additional festival information, visit www.portlandgp.com. Tickets start at just $20, and children 12 and under receive free general admission and access to the paddock. You can stay up to speed on the Grand Prix of Portland on social media by following #PortlandGP.


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