Internship program gives women IndyCar experience

The inaugural class is currently working trackside at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

INDIANAPOLIS — Chip Ganassi Racing and PNC have partnered this IndyCar season for a new campaign aimed at increasing the number of women in motorsport.

Part of the campaign includes an internship program, and the inaugural class is currently working on the track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In an industry where speed is king, one aspect of motorsport has historically been slow to catch up: the presence of women, not just on the grid, but in the pits and in the garages, making sure these machines are running at peak performance. of their performance.

“When I got into this business, I was the only one,” said Anna Chatten, gearbox mechanic for Chip Ganassi Racing. “So I really just wanted to blend in at the time.”

“I was once watching a race on TV with a friend of mine and we were playing the game like, ‘Oh, spot the women. And we could probably count on two hands,” said Jennifer Short, a mechanical engineering student at Purdue University.

But the traditional boys’ club on the track is changing.

“There’s a lot more female presence than 20 years ago, that’s for sure,” Chatten said.

A new program further promotes gender equality in IndyCar.

Chip Ganassi Racing has partnered with PNC to launch paid internships for female students, intended to create more opportunities for women as engineers, mechanics and sports coaches.

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Short and Rebecca Hutton of Purdue and IUPUI are two of five interns selected for the season.

“Honestly, it’s still surreal! I’m like, ‘OK, somebody pinch me,'” said IUPUI motorsport engineering specialist Hutton. “So today to be able to be on the timing stand during practices is an amazing experience. It will prepare me for my career for sure.”

“Chip Ganassi is a great team and obviously PNC are amazing to have sponsored this program and this is my dream camp,” added Short. “We learn how car data analysis works, we do tours of the workshop, garages and pits and I was on the timing pit to practice and I got to look over the shoulders of engineers and see what they were doing with data analysis.”

Interns also learn from women who are already excelling in the field, like Chatten, who spent 22 years in the racing industry. She has risen through the ranks and is now working full-time on Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 car, after taking a break to be a mum to her two daughters.

Now she does it all: a mom, a mechanic and a mentor to the next generation of women in motorsport.

“There’s nothing in motorsport, gender-wise, that can hold you back in any way,” Chatten said. “I’m super excited to work here and have the opportunity to be a part of it and help see change happen.”

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This change is also significant for Indy 500 poleman Scott Dixon, not only as a driver but also as a father of two daughters.

“Whether it’s on the engineering front, the driving front, the mechanical front, the gearbox front, you know, there are so many different areas where women, really…we need them. to get involved in our sport, you know, to make it better and more importantly to be a father of a girl, that’s a big inspiration,” Dixon said.

This program hopes to inspire even more girls interested in running to pursue their passion. Like any career, if you see it, you believe you can do it. Women working as interns now want to lead by example, as they launch their own future careers.

“Little girls want to be what they see other women to be, that’s true,” Hutton said. “For them to see that they can be in this industry and it’s an option for them is really important. For me? Being here these two days has solidified it. That’s it. That’s where I would like to be.”

“Even when I’m on the track for 14 hours, I hear a car start at the end of the day and it still brings me that joy,” Short said. “I help make it work. I help make this car fast and I’m part of a team doing something great.”

Chip Ganassi Racing has more information about the Women in Motorsports program on their website.

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