In honor of International Women’s Day on Sunday, INDYCAR.com is highlighting a number of women who help bring the 17-race NTT INDYCAR SERIES season to life beginning with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.) on March 13-15.
Since the inception of open-wheel racing more than a century ago, women have been involved in almost every aspect of the sport, from drivers to mechanics to team ownership to INDYCAR leadership. Nine women have competed in the prestigious Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, with Danica Patrick holding the record for best starting position (fourth) and best finishing position (third). Patrick also won an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race, in 2008 at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan. She and Sarah Fisher are former pole winners in series races.
Several women have owned race teams, including Fisher, whose teams won races with Ed Carpenter and Josef Newgarden.
In 2020, women will serve crew roles from engineers to mechanics, and Firestone’s leadership has women in key positions. Among the many, here are several women working in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES as we celebrate International Women’s Day:
Cara Adams, Director of Race Tire Engineering and Production, Chief Engineer Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations: Adams (shown in photograph above) was promoted to Director of Race Tire Engineering and Production for Bridgestone Americas in November 2019. In this expanded leadership role, Adams oversees the entire race tire production process in support of the Firestone brand’s role as sole tire supplier of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
Angela Ashmore, Assistant Engineer, Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 8 Honda: Ashmore earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University. She started her career at Chrysler and worked as a driveline engineer in SRT for the 6.4L and Hellcat programs. From Chrysler, she moved over to work in NASCAR as a race engineer and has been doing that for the past five years. In January, Angela transitioned to INDYCAR, and her current position at Chip Ganassi Racing is assistant engineer on the No. 8 car driven by Marcus Ericsson.
Becky Baranouski, Team Coordinator, A.J. Foyt Enterprises: Baranouski joined A.J. Foyt’s racing organization in 1996 as travel manager. She now works not only with travel for the team operating out of two locations (Indianapolis and Waller, Texas) but also with team sponsors, many of which she secured. That work includes credentials, suites and accommodations.
Lisa Boggs, Director of Motorsports, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations: Boggs joined Bridgestone Americas as Director of Motorsports in May 2013, bringing more than 20 years of motorsports experience to the position. Boggs leads the motorsports marketing and sponsorship activities for Firestone Racing within the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Her previous role included running the motorsports practice at Edelman Public Relations and eight years with Philip Morris on behalf of its sponsorship of Marlboro Team Penske. Boggs serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
Stephanie Carlin, Public Relations and Commercial Manager, Carlin: Carlin (shown in photograph at right) is considered the glue holding Carlin’s global motorsports operation together, balancing between 10 and 15 cars at any one time in at least eight different categories, including two cars in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Carlin’s scope includes communications, sales and marketing.
Anna Chatten, Gearbox Technician, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing: Chatten is the gearbox technician for two cars annually participating in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Her father, Bob, was a nationally rated flat track motorcycle racer, and she raced against Danica Patrick in junior karting. In 2009, she became one of the first women to go over the wall during Indianapolis 500 pit stops – she held the vent hose for driver Larry Dickson in the 1981 and ’82 races.
Nancy Foyt, Office Manager, A.J. Foyt Enterprises: A.J. Foyt’s daughter-in-law joined the organization in 1996, handling accounting for the race team as well as Foyt’s cattle ranches and the Foyt Game Ranch (run by her husband Tony, aka A.J. Foyt III) in West Texas. When her son, A.J. Foyt IV, drove Indy cars, she attended nearly all of the races.
Kate Gundlach, Performance Engineer, Arrow McLaren SP: The University of Pittsburgh graduate has worked for four NTT INDYCAR SERIES teams, most notably Chip Ganassi Racing, where in 2018 she became one of the first women to work on a championship-winning effort (Scott Dixon’s car). She spent six seasons with Chip Ganassi’s team. She had previously worked with HVM Racing and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Amber Holm, Vice President, Marketing, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations: Holm is responsible for consumer and customer engagement in the U.S. and Canada. She leads sponsorship and engagement activities for the company’s sports and entertainment platforms, which include the NFL, NHL, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the PGA TOUR, the company’s Worldwide Olympic and Paralympic Partnerships, and country music.
Colleen Howerton, Office Manager, Ed Carpenter Racing: Howerton grew up around Indy car racing, travelling the country in support of her father, former driver and CART chief steward Wally Dallenbach Sr. Beginning in 1983, she built her own career in motorsports and has been a part of the Ganassi, PacWest and Conquest teams. She was among the first hired when Ed Carpenter Racing formed prior to the 2012 season and is one of 12 original employees still with the team. She holds the title of Office Manager but seamlessly moves through accounting, human resources, apparel and travel duties. She is married to Rick Howerton, team manager of the Vance & Hines/Harley-Davidson Factory racing team.
SJ Luedtke, Vice President, Marketing, INDYCAR: Luedtke is responsible for advancing INDYCAR’s brand across all channels, managing event and experiential assets, accelerating fan growth and engagement, and working with media partners to drive consumption and ratings. Luedtke came to INDYCAR in 2019 from Nike, which she joined in 2010. At Nike, she rose to senior brand director of football. Prior to that, she spent 14 years in motorsports, with positions at Team Green, Andretti Green Racing and Goodyear.
Danielle Shepherd, Simulation Engineer, Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 10 Honda: Shepherd’s first job in motorsports was a DAG position at KV Racing Technology where she was responsible for the electronics system on the car. Today, Shepherd currently works as a simulation engineer at Chip Ganassi Racing. Her fourth year with the team will be with Felix Rosenqvist’s car.
Gail Truess, Driver, AMR Safety Team: Truess (shown at right) got her first experience with open-wheel racing while working for a rally team in the mid-1980s. Her group was asked to help build and test the Oldsmobile that would pace the ’85 Indianapolis 500. Later, the national rally driving champion joined CART’s PPG Pace Car Team. She has been with the AMR Safety Team since 2008, working all NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Road to Indy and Global MX-5 races.
The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network on Sunday, March 15. The pre-race show begins at 2:30 p.m. ET with the green flag scheduled for 3:30 p.m.