Thirty-three years ago in 1977, Janet Guthrie became the first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500, but women car racers were still few and far between. Then In 2005, 23-year-old Danica Patrick made her Indianapolis 500 debut, finished in fourth place, and changed things for female car racers everywhere.
Last weekend marked the first time five women tried qualifying for the Indy 500. Four of them made it. Two of those rookie racers -- Ana Beatriz of Brazil and Simona de Silvestro of Switzerland -- outperformed Patrick, who was actually booed after blaming her poor racing on bad mechanics. So while Patrick may be the only current household female car racer name in America, that could be about to change.
Meet the four women to watch out for at the 100th Anniversary Indy 500 race today.
Simona de SilvestroSimona de Silvestro: This Switzerland racer, who is often referred to as the "Swiss Miss," is slated to be the darling of the IndyCar series when Danica Patrick packs her gear for NASCAR for good. She will line up 23rd in today's race.
Danica Patrick: The first woman to win an IndyCar race (2008 Indy Japan 300), Patrick has been on America's radar since she placed fourth in the Indy 500 in 2005. She was 96 on Forbes' recent list of the most powerful people in entertainment, popular culture, and sports. This may be her last time on the Indy Circuit -- rumor has it, she's headed to NASCAR full time. Patrick will line up 26th in today's race.
Pippa Mann: This 27-year-old British racer will be making her debut in the IZOD IndyCar Series today. Mann is first-ever British female to drive the 500-mile race and she's the only rookie in a one-off entry to make the field this year. Mann will line up 31st in today's race.
Ana Beatriz: A Brazilian, Beatriz, 26, started racing go-carts when she was just a kid. From there she progressed to Formula car and then the Indy Lights series. She became the first woman to win an Indy Lights race when she won at Nashville last July. Beatriz will line up 32nd in today's race.
Who's your favorite female racing the Indy 500 today?