The Paretta Autosport IndyCar Team is ready for the Indianapolis 500 2021
Beth Paretta, Simona De Silvestro and a crew of about 75% women aim to inspire a new generation of underrepresented people in racing.
Jenna Watson, Indianapolis Star
Beth Paretta enters the announced event at Paretta Autosport for the three-race IndyCar program where Ed Carpenter Racing is already looking forward to more.
That could come in a few weeks. Baretta told IndyStar Thursday in an exclusive interview that a potential fourth race of the year she hinted at during her new team conference in April is close to reality.
“I was hoping we’d find out now, and I won’t say anything has been done, but maybe by the end of the weekend even…” said Baretta, belatedly. “We are just waiting for feedback on the agreement. It has been a long time, but I have never been someone to count their chickens before they hatch.”
more:Baretta Autosport, Simona de Silvestro align three races with Ed Carpenter Racing
The same is true of Paretta’s potential long-term expansion with ECR and driver Simona De Silvestro, who Baretta said wants to be at IndyCar for the future of motorsport. Although Baretta noted that she and Carpenter didn’t sit down to spell out what kind of program makes the most sense for 2023, options like running De Silvestro full-time or even part-time while sharing a car while Carpenter continues to run the ovals. .
This is more important than ever. In June, Rob Buckner, Chevy Racing’s program manager, told a group of reporters that the engine manufacturer would not be able to support more than 13 full-time programs for 2023 in what is expected to be the last year of the current engine formula. Running 11 full-time this year, before losing car No. 11 at AJ Foyt Racing due to sponsorship issues, Chevy will add a third full-time car to Arrow McLaren SP next year, and Juncos Hollinger Racing is looking to get a second full-time car as well.
This means that if Foyt is only able to support two cars full-time next year, there will still be another full-time seat before the series is tapped. A Honda official has repeatedly told IndyStar throughout this season that despite assurances that Dale Coyne Racing is working on adding a full-time third car, no such deal will be available under the current landscape. Right now Honda supports 15 full-time entries, which it considers the limit, so unless the current entry drops from next year’s field, there’s nowhere to be.
External attrition, this Chevy Final Engine will be the last full-time seat in IndyCar until another engine plant comes along—which doesn’t seem to be on the immediate horizon. Another promising tandem that hopes to break into IndyCar full-time next year, Don Cusick and Stefan Wilson, told IndyStar this week that they are in the midst of strong talks with one Chevy team they declined to name.
Given the state of Chevy’s various programs — including the bond Paretta has built with the ECR — it appears that a potential landing point for Cusick and Wilson will likely be in Foyt.
“I know Ed is happy, and I know Chevy is really happy that we’re working together,” Baretta told IndyStar. “I know (Chevy) will be supportive of us because they are happy to have us for the reasons we know.
“It’s great to see that our introduction to[being a women’s team forward that helps us highlight the women in IndyCar]helps us close deals the way we wanted to. If some of these companies ever wanted to be in the races, they could be all the time. But our story is. It resonated well enough that it caught the eye and brought people to the table who wouldn’t have thought about it at all.”
Right now, Barretta says she has dozens of women — in addition to De Silvestro — who are working full-time on the program or are being trained to do so in the future. Earlier this week, ECR hosted several downtime drills to learn the nuances of how ECR completed the job, compared to the work they did at the Team Penske Store in North Carolina earlier. To add to this, Paretta also added an occasional intern, and in Mid-Ohio, they let some kids from local high schools shade different parts of the program on the weekend.
In that same vein, next Monday, Baretta and De Silvestro are scheduled to visit a local school in Nashville in partnership with Chevy to help with the ring in the new school year and provide some outreach about IndyCar and engineering. Add to that the 10 guests Paretta Autosport is hosting from new primary sponsor Acumatica for Sunday’s Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, along with other partners Winnebago and The Henry Ford, among others.
In many ways, racing this weekend in the streets of Nashville feels like the short-term culmination of the alternate road that Baretta decided to take back in the spring in terms of trying to prepare Paretta Autosport for the long term.
“Looking back, I think we made the absolutely right choice,” Baretta said of choosing to run three or four races starting in June, rather than riding the one-off Indy 500. “This gave Simona a chance to spend more time in the car. She had a test day on the IMS on the road as well as many days on the sim, and she wouldn’t have had that if it was around 500.
“If we want to do more next year, she’s in a good position to do so because of the calendar we’ve done. And for the rest of our team, since they’re either new to IndyCar or new to the racing world, and a lot of them only travel on the weekend, it was great. To see these women how this is and how they might be able to reconcile it with their families.”
more:Simona de Silvestro is staying patient on her return to IndyCar
Part of Barreta’s confidence looking back this weekend is the energy she’s seen from the sponsors that signaled their interest beyond just this doubles race stretch.
“Hey, this isn’t a one-off,” Acomatica told me on our first call. I’ve already spoken with some of the other partners and we have agreements for next year. Things are going in the right direction, and I’m more than pleased.
“I hope the more visible we are, the less curious we are, and I kind of want that novelty to fade away.”
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