All-Female Team Speeds Toward 'Lofty Goal'

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Paretta says the Indy 500 is 'STEM at work.' Paretta says the Indy 500 is 'STEM at work.'

Organizers of an effort to put together the first all-female INDYCAR team are looking to the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 to provide a grand stage for its big debut. Grace Autosport Principal Owner Beth Paretta says the business plan calls for a team that will compete at Indy and beyond and includes a STEM education initiative to address the nation's "engineering crisis." Katherine Legge is the team's driver. The effort has attracted partners including IUPUI and St. Vincent's Sports Performance, and Paretta expects to announce a manufacturer partner soon.

Grace Autosport announced its intentions at last year's Indy 500. The team hopes continue beyond this year's race and "run in perpetuity." Paretta says the feedback from IndyCar and other teams has been positive, and adds the effort will be the subject of a documentary series executive produced by Hoosiers and Rudy director David Anspaugh.

Paretta, a long-time automotive industry executive, says engineers are retiring at a higher rate than they're being replaced, and it's crucial to engage young women and develop their interest in STEM-related fields. She calls the Indy 500 "STEM at work" and says racing is an exciting way to get kids excited "without even knowing its science."

Late last year, Grace Autosport announced the partnership with IUPUI, which launched a bachelor's degree in motorsports engineering in 2008. At the time, School of Engineering and Technology Dean David Russomanno said the partnership recognized "the important contributions women make in STEM fields."

The team has also inked a partnership with Girls Who Code, which works to educate girls throughout the United States in the information technology field.

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