This is a list of female motor racing
drivers who have entered an Indianapolis 500 race.
Eight women racing drivers have officially entered
at least once. Sarah Fisher has the most career
starts with nine, and Danica Patrick has the best
result with a third place in 2009. Lyn St. James,
Danica Patrick and Simona de Silvestro have all won
the rookie of the year award.
The first and only female car owner to win the
Indianapolis 500 was Maude "M.A." Yagle, who owned
the 1929 race winning car with driver Ray
Female participation of most sorts at
Indianapolis was discouraged and essentially banned
throughout the first several decades of
competition. As such, female reporters were not
even allowed in the pit area until 1971. There
were, however, a number of female owners/sponsors
that participated in some capacity throughout the
first several decades, and off-the-track duties
were common. Women were frequently and routinely
performers during the pre-race ceremonies, invited
as dignitaries to attend the race, and many were
employed by the track, working in the ticket
office, motel, and other administrative
The first professional female competition at the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway was not an automobile
race, but the LPGA 500 Ladies Classic in 1968. it
was played at the Speedway Golf Course.
The first female to arrive at Indianapolis
looking to qualify was Janet Guthrie in 1976.
However, she fell short on short on speed and
preparation time. She was able to pass her rookie
test, but suffered numerous mechanical problems
during the month. On the final day of time trials,
Guthrie was loaned a back-up car owned by A. J.
Foyt, and she quickly reached a suitable speed,
however, she did not make an attempt to
Guthrie returned to Indy and qualified for the
first time in 1977, and made three total starts.
She received a mixed welcome amongst the
competitors and fans, but was mostly viewed in a
positive light by the media. Her experiences were
at times frustrating, as setbacks and difficulties
ranged from engine troubles, to the lack of female
restrooms in the garage area at the time.
Since 2000, when two female drivers (Lyn St.
James and Sarah Fisher) started the race, the women
participation has been growing. Since this year, in
every race at least one woman has started the race.
Seven women (five of them foreigner) has started a
race with a total of 28 starts. In 2010 and 2011
four women start. In 2011 three finished the
Before 2005, Janet Guthrie had the best finished
in the race. She earned a 9th place finish in 1978
and later revealed she drove with a broken wrist.
It was the highest finish for a female driver in
Indy history until Danica Patrick in finished 4th.
Patrick bettered her record in 2009 with a 3rd
place finish, which stands as the current record.
Patrick is also the only female driver to have led
laps during the race, which she did on two
occasions (2005 and 2011).
In 2005 and 2010 Patrick and Simona de Silvestro
received the Rookie of the Year award.
Twice, a female has driven the pace car at the
start of the race: Elaine Irwin Mellencamp (2001)
and Robin Roberts (2010).
Most career starts
9: Sarah Fisher (2000-2017, 2007-2017)
7: Lyn St. James (1992-1997, 2000)
7: Danica Patrick (2005-2017)
Best starting position
4th: Danica Patrick (2005)
5th: Danica Patrick (2008)
6th: Lyn St. James (1994)
Best finishing position
3rd: Danica Patrick (2009)
4th: Danica Patrick (2005)
6th: Danica Patrick (2006)
Most laps led, career
29: Danica Patrick
Most female drivers in the starting
4: 2010 (Danica Patrick, Sarah Fisher, Ana
Beatriz, Simona de Silvestro)
4: 2011 (Danica Patrick, Ana Beatriz, Simona de
Silvestro, Pippa Mann)
Fastest 4-lap qualifying average, female
229.439 mph: Sarah Fisher (2002)
Fastest 1-lap qualifying speed, female
229.675 mph: Sarah Fisher (2002)
Female Rookie of the Year winners
Lyn St. James (1992)
Danica Patrick (2005)
Simona de Silvestro (2010)
Maude "M.A." Yagle - 1929-1932; won the 1929
race with Ray Keech
Marion Batton - 1929 (widow of Norman Batten)
Bessie Lee Paoli - 1952-1953
Mari Hulman - 1962-1963 (Elmer George)
Lydia Laughrey - (Steve Chassey, 1987)
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (2008-present)
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©1996-2017 by of Gordon Clay