The sports car star and the motorsport manager explain the philosophy behind all-female team Grace Autosport
Ledge Parreta FIA Sport Conference

Q Explain the thinking behind the Grace Autosport team?

BP: Grace Autosport started as an idea to put a team of women together to race the Indy 500. [Being motor sport director of FIAT-Chrysler] I got a call in late 2014 from a colleague Adrian Sussman who was formulating the idea with Katherine asking what I thought.

I thought about it for a few days and said we could do a lot more for women in motor sport in general and that it was a great foundation to get more women involved in engineering careers. It started from there and it has just got bigger and bigger.

One of the things I’m proud of is that there have been men and women at the table from the beginning, making sure we are doing this the right way and that it’s authentic and it’s the right women who are involved. This is not meant to be one race; it’s going to be a lot more than that.

Q Have you identified the women you would like to work with?

KL: Together we have quite a lot experience. We know the key women and we have hand-picked some really great, experienced women. The reason that Grace will be a success is that we’ve gone out and got all these accomplished women who are at the top of their field, and we’ve put them together to showcase something much bigger than any of us individually.

BP: The reaction has been so positive, not only from women who are already in racing but young women who are going off to college saying ‘this is my dream and I’m so excited to learn about your team and can I possibly work for your team someday.’ It’s exciting to be that beacon.

Q Katherine, when you started racing, a female racer was a rarity and now we’re talking about fielding a female-led team at the Indy 500. How have you seen the role of women in motor sport change?

KL: When I started there were very few women drivers across the board, but the role of women in racing has changed massively. There are now quite a few women drivers but what we’re trying to do is showcase women engineers and mechanics, which we’re lacking at the moment. We need to get more at grassroots level – more mechanics, more PR people, we just need to make it accessible to them.