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Background

 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 Keech.

History

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 positions.

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 qualify.

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.

21st Century

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 race.

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).

Name

Country
Participation
Entries
Starts
Best Start
Best Finish
Wins
Top Ten

Janet Guthrie

USA

1976-80
5
3
14
9
0
1

Desire Wilson

Italy

1982-84
3
-
-
-
-
-

Amber Furst

USA

1983
-
-
-
-
-
-

Lyn St. James

USA

1992-2000
9
7
6
11
0
0

Sarah Fisher

USA

2000-04 2007-10
9
9
9
17
0
0

Danica Patrick

USA

2005-11
7
7
4
3
0
6

Milka Duno

Venezuela

2007-10
4
3
27
19
0
0

Simona de Silverstro

Switzerland

2010-12
3
3
22
14
0
0

Ana Beatriz

Brasil

2010-12
3
3
13
21
0
0

Pippa Mann

England

2011
1
1
32
20
0
0

Katherine Legge

England

2012
1
1
30
22
0
0

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_Indy_500_drivers

Female records

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 field

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 driver

229.439 mph: Sarah Fisher (2002)

Fastest 1-lap qualifying speed, female driver

229.675 mph: Sarah Fisher (2002)

Female Rookie of the Year winners

Lyn St. James (1992)
Danica Patrick (2005)
Simona de Silvestro (2010)

Female owners/teams (Partial list)

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[6]
Mari Hulman - 1962-1963 (Elmer George)
Lydia Laughrey - (Steve Chassey, 1987)
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (2008-present)

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