After weeks of intensive practice and training, four women have been chosen to go over pit wall during Sunday’s 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 and service Simona De Silvestro’s No. 16 Paretta Autosport Chevy. And for the first time since the inaugural Indianapolis 500 was held in 1911, history will be made when a pit crew containing a majority of women racers will be responsible for performing IndyCar pit stops.
“It’s a definitely proud moment to have so many women go over the wall,” De Silvestro told RACER.
Led by veteran Team Penske crew chief Vance Welker who will stop the car, change the right-front tire and send De Silvestro on her way, Amanda Frayer will chase the Swiss driver into the pit stall from behind carrying a wheel gun and fresh right-rear Firestone tire to swap in a matter of seconds.
Across from Frayer on the left side of the No. 16 Chevy, Madison Conrad will be crouched and waiting for De Silvestro to come to a stop and change the left-rear tire. And up front, across from Welker, Caitlyn Brown will be tracking De Silvestro’s left-front wheel with her eyes as the six-time Indy 500 starter races into the pit box.
Like Welker and Conrad, Brown will look to shave a few tenths of a second from her tire-changing process by extending her hands outward, aiming the wheel gun at De Silvestro’s inbound car, to try and connect the socket onto the center-lock nut and start loosening it before the No. 16 Chevy comes to a stop.
The left-side of the car will also be busy, with Mallorie Muller tucked between Brown on front-tire duty and refueler Clint Cummings filling the tank with 18.5-gallons of E85 ethanol. The final member of the Paretta Autosport pit crew is Chris Fry, who will operate the air jack at the back of the car.
The four women and three men were chosen on merit, and in the cases of Frayer, Conrad, Brown, and Muller, De Silvestro takes pride in knowing the women racers attending to her car represent a changing attitude towards who can be entrusted with tasks requiring strength, speed, and precision on pit lane.
“They’ve worked so hard to achieve that, and they’ve done the work to be as fast as the men, so from that point, we’re super proud of them,” she said of her rookie team members, who will compliment current pit crew veterans like Anna Chatten at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Jessica Mace at Andretti Autosport. “I think we’ll have an amazing race together and really show the world that anything is possible.”