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Simona de Silvestro returning to Indy 500 racing for new team Paretta Autosport

Indy 500 Simona de Silvestro

Chris Owens

Simona de Silvestro, the 2010 Indy 500 rookie of the year, will attempt to make her first start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 2015, driving for a team being overseen by longtime automotive and motorsports executive Beth Paretta.

The No. 16 Dallara-Chevrolet of Paretta Autosport will be part of the Race for Equality & Change program announced by IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway last July.

Team Penske will provide technical support to the team, which could appear in other NTT IndyCar Series races this year ahead of a full-time season in 2022.

Last year’s 104th Indy 500 was the first in 20 years that didn’t include a female driver. If she qualifies for the May 30 race, Simona de Silvestro will be making her sixth Indy 500 start with a best finish of 14th in her 2010 debut (which earned her the Tony Renna Firestone Rising Star Award.

In four full-time seasons in IndyCar from 2010-13, de Silvestro, 32, finished a career-best 13th in points with a second place at Houston in ’13. Her most recent start was a 19th in the 2015 Indy 500 for Andretti Autosport.

The Switzerland native left IndyCar to become a Formula One development driver and also has race in Formula E, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and SuperCar series. She has been a factory driver for Porsche since 2019.

“I am very excited to have this incredible opportunity to return to Indianapolis and the Indy 500 with Paretta Autosport this year,” de Silvestro said. “My career really took off through my time competing in IndyCar and the Indy 500, so returning to compete with Beth and her new team in alliance with Team Penske is a special and rare chance in my career.

“Being part of the goal of diversity and inclusion for everyone, and especially women in IndyCar, and in motorsports in general, is very important to me and how I would like to see the future of racing. I want to thank the NTT IndyCar Series for taking such an important leadership role in providing gender and overall diversity inclusion in motorsports.”

According to a release, Paretta Autosport will focus on employing women in competition, operations, logistics, marketing and PR roles with the team.

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“Today is the beginning of a commitment to gender equity in sport, to encourage women to work hard so they can earn their seat at the table or spot on the grid,” Paretta said in a release. “INDYCAR has been a leader and a welcoming place for women for many years because of the hard work of many women and men before us, but now we have a stronger commitment with IndyCar’s ‘Race for Equality & Change’ to make sure opportunities continue in the future.

“Our team, along with our technical alliance with Team Penske, will work hard to give Simona the best car we can provide so she can achieve her best results. Competition drives us. The Indy 500 is the greatest race in the world, and one day soon we hope to have a woman’s face on the Borg-Warner Trophy.”

Said Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Group: “We are pleased to welcome Beth and her Paretta Autosport team to IndyCar this year. Her team’s addition to the INDYCAR ‘Race for Equality & Change’ program this year will ensure that INDYCAR and the Indianapolis 500 continues the legacy of having a female driver qualify for the 2021 Indy 500. Of course, it will be up to Simona and the team to qualify the car for the grid, but knowing Beth, I know that her team will be up for the task.”

Paretta is most well known for her work with Dodge Motorsports and SRT, where she was the first female director to lead a performance brand and motorsports for a manufacturer. She was a part of the program that won the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series championship with Brad Keselowski.