Thursday, January 13, 2011

2011: A Banner Year For Female Drivers?

I'll preface this article with the understanding that I don't cheer for a driver based on gender. If they're a racer, have the right attitude, and bring the speed, then they've got my respect. That said, as the father of a six year-old budding IndyCar fan of a daughter, I love the fact that she can easily reference great role models in racing like Sarah Fisher and Simona de Silvestro. Socially, the inclusion of lady IndyCar drivers is still seen as a groundbreaking, pioneering trend to much of the sporting world.

2010 was a great year for female drivers in the IZOD IndyCar Series. We had the following ladies compete in IndyCar, the most ever for a season:

-Danica Patrick
-Sarah Fisher
-Simona de Silvestro
-Ana Beatriz
-Milka Duno

With the winter meetings of IndyCar, however, more credible rumors are starting to surface for next year's grid. We suspect that Milka Duno is gone to ARCA, and know Sarah Fisher has focused on being a team owner. So where does that leave us for 2011? Here's what we know about the current possibilities:

-Danica Patrick: Back with Andretti Autosport
-Simona de Silvestro: Back with HVM
-Ana Beatriz: Nothing concrete yet, but could go back at least part-time to Dreyer & Reinbold
-Pippa Mann: Speculated to run at least a couple of races in 2011.
-Katherine Legge: A surprise showing in Indy for the winter meetings! Perhaps the biggest question mark as far as what her plans are.
The Kat Comes Back to open-wheel?

So, the same number of potential female participants as last year, right?  Consider this: Milka's gone, most likely. That means that if all 5 of these ladies show up for Indy, there's at least a chance they at least tie last year's record number of female 500 qualifiers (4).  Now, obviously, it's still silly season, but that's a good group of potential drivers right there, and there's reasonable hopes of seeing them all at some point in 2011.

Simona, Danica, and Bia have all proven their talent. Pippa Mann blazed a path through the latter half of her 2010 Lights season. Kat Legge already showed her talent in ChampCar. I also can't help but idly wonder that if she's not preggers by May, perhaps Sarah Fisher might be persuaded to give Indy one last go...

Even if no records are broken for female participants in an IndyCar season or to qualify for the Indy 500, 2011 should be at least as good as 2010 was for the female driver in IndyCar. I have a feeling my daughter will approve.

Photo by Crosathorian. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


  1. I am cheering for the girls!! Although I love TK. :) Com'on Sarah, one more year!

  2. I'm hoping Sarah does one more 500 as well, if she isn't preggers. It'd be great to have her make the field for the Centennial, but I respect her priorities and decisions.

  3. Wouldn't it be great to have two rows of the historic field filled out by the above ladies if Sarah opts to run Indy one more time. That might be a record that would stand for awhile if Danica leaves for NASCAR in2012.

  4. I think you're right, Mr. A. With some of the decisions coming up for some of the drivers, 2011 could be a high-water mark for female drivers for a couple of years. I certainly hope talent like Simona and Bia sticks around for a while.