By: Spencer Neff
January 19, 2021
Tuesday morning, another entryways for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge was announced.
In a technical partnership with Team Penske, the newly formed Paretta Autosport will enter the No. 16 car for the May 30 event. After five years away, 2010 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Simona de Silvestro will make her return to the series and drive for the team.
“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,” Paretta Autosport Team Principal Beth Paretta 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.”
In 2015, Paretta announced intentions to field an all-female team for the 2016 Indianapolis 500, with Katherine Legge tabbed to drive for Grace Autosport. However, those plans never materialized.
“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 NTT INDYCAR SERIES for taking such an important leadership role in providing gender and overall diversity inclusion in motorsports.”
In six previous Indianapolis 500 appearances, the Thun, Switzerland native earned a best finish of 14th with HVM Racing during her rookie season. During her last “500” start with Andretti Autosport in 2015, she finished 19th after a career-best start of 18th.
Over her 66 career IndyCar starts, de Silvestro earned a best finish of second at Houston Race 1 in 2013 and a best start of third at St. Petersburg in 2013.
For IndyCar, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Penske Corp, the announcement is a further step in their “Race for Equality & Change” initiative.
“We are pleased to welcome Beth and her Paretta Autosport team to INDYCAR this year,” noted Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp.
“Her team’s addition to the INDYCAR ‘Race for Equality & Change’ program this year will ensure that INDYCAR and the Indianapolis 500 continues the legacy of having a female driver qualify for the 2021 Indy 500. Of course, it will be up to Simona and the team to qualify the car for the grid, but knowing Beth, I know that her team will be up for the task.”
Paretta Autosport will be based in North Carolina, alongside Team Penske’s shop.
Header Image By Simona De Silvestro/Twitter