The first INDYCAR team made up of all women will not meet its goal of racing in this year’s Indianapolis 500. Grace Autosport says, despite a high level of interest from partners ranging from sponsors to manufacturers, "the missing component was a viable race car."
The team says the shortage of chassis is evident by only 33 cars are entered for 33 spots. All key roles on the team, including driver Katherine Legge, are held by women.
The team had been targeting the 100th Running of the Indy 500 since their inception a year ago. During an interview in February on Inside INdiana Business Television, Team Principal Beth Paretta said its objectives stretch beyond the track into helping to address what she called a nationwide "engineering crisis."
In November, the team announced a collaboration with IUPUI, which launched the nation’s first bachelor’s degree in motorsports engineering in 2008.
Paretta issued the following statement Wednesday on the team’s website:
Grace Autosport announced today that it will not compete in this year’s 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29, 2016.
Over the past year the Grace Autosport team was able to assemble a manufacturer partner, sponsor partners, educational partners, funding, driver and crew members, but the missing component was a viable race car to compete in the May race, despite great interest in the program. The reality of the shortage of feasible cars is reflected in only 33 cars entered for the 100th Running of the Indy 500 this year.
"We met with many teams in the IndyCar Paddock late last season to determine partnership feasibility and discovered numerous teams had chosen to scale back their plans for 2016," said Team Principal, Beth Paretta. "We were ready to announce a team partnership for the Indy 500 at the Grand Prix of Long Beach in mid-April but a change in terms proved unsound for Grace’s sponsor partners and unfortunately we had to step away from the deal."
"The consolidation of teams and the decrease of entries in 2016 reduced the available options for us. Our partner spoke with Dallara about buying a new car after Long Beach but there wasn’t a current 2016 car available in time for the 500. We evaluated an available chassis as late as last week but there wasn’t enough time to acquire all the parts needed to rebuild the car safely. Because of this sequence of events we will not campaign a car in this year’s Indy 500."
"As I said last summer, Grace Autosport was not interested in just making the grid and running at the back. We wanted to put forth a respectable effort and we wanted to be competitive, while keeping safety at the very forefront of our program. We apologize to the many fans that have reached out to offer their support, which has been incredible. The good news is that we will not give up and are now working closely with our partners to map out Grace’s future."
"The Grace Autosport initiative is far more than a race program," added Paretta. "Concurrent to building the race team, we have been assembling commercial partners and the essential pieces for our STEM educational initiatives to reach the community and the classroom that we set forth a year ago. Thank you again to the many fans for the continued notes of support and appreciation since our announcement last May. We look forward to seeing all of you at the races in the near future."
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