The 106th Indianapolis 500 took place on May 29, 2022, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana. Denoted as the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ — the Indy 500 is one leg of the Triple Crown of Motorsport — making it one of the most prominent and celebrated events in all of motorsports.
The other being the Triple Crown races of the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Yet, even with the ultimate scene in racing, women are not represented. Since the race’s inception, ten women have officially entered at least once.
The first female to compete in the Indy 500 was Janet Guthrie in 1976, decades after the inaugural race in 1911. In fact, female reporters weren’t even allowed in the pit area until 1971, much less behind the wheel. Sarah Fisher has the most career starts with nine. Danica Patrick has been the most successful and recorded the best result for a woman Indy 500 driver with a third-place finish in 2009.
Indy 500 Facts – Women and the Indy 500
Most earnings, single race: $763,305 – Danica Patrick (2009)
Most races running at finish: 6 – Danica Patrick (2005-2007, 2009-2011)
Highest starting position: 4th – Danica Patrick (2005)
Highest finishing position: 3rd – Danica Patrick (2005)
Fastest one-lap qualification lap: 229.675 mph – Sarah Fisher (2002)
Fastest four-lap qualification average: 229.439 mph – Sarah Fisher (2002)
Most laps completed, career: 1,404 – Danica Patrick (2005-2011, 2018)
Most laps led, single race: 19 – Danica Patrick (2005)
Most laps led, career: 29 – Danica Patrick (2005-2011, 2018)
Making the Case for an All-Female Indy 500
Since there have been women drivers in the Indy 500, why can’t we create an all-female edition of the race? Not only would it provide the best competition, but it also would showcase this world’s great feminine excellence.
It’s no secret that we’ve seen female racing success outside of the Indy 500. In 2021, a female-led ownership group spearheaded by Beth Paretta was formed. The program has earned three national championships.
Beth said it best, "It’s important to me that the bigger message is this isn’t women at the expense of men. I'm trying to expand the grid. My hope is that in five years, us being a team of mostly women is the least interesting thing about us."