Juliana Chiovitti Returns from Nunn Motorsports MIPS Test in Texas
Canadian Female Concludes Menards Infiniti Pro Series Test
FORT WORTH, TEXAS - - (Nov. 11, 2004) Sutton, Ontario native and current Las Vegas, Nev., resident Juliana Chiovitti returned home Wednesday evening after participating in a three day test session at Texas Motor Speedway in an Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro Series car for Nunn Motorsports. Chiovitti, an accomplished high speed kart and Formula Ford 2000 racer had a momentous experience as one of seven candidates who tried out for an opportunity of a full season ride with the Indianapolis-based team.
Kathryn Nunn, the IRL's only female team owner, and former IndyCar driver Lyn St. James identified Chiovitti as a candidate for the test from an extensive list of applications received. The IRL's Infiniti Pro Series is the developmental series of the Indy Racing League which debuted in July, 2002. Nunn hopes to bring the first female driver into the series and will make her final decision at the end of this month. For Chiovitti, it was a rare opportunity of a lifetime. "A lot of people dream of this their whole lives," Chiovitti said. "All of a sudden, we get a phone call at 7 o'clock in the morning, asking, 'Will you come out?' You're like, "I'll be there. When? In my pajamas? Want me now?'"
"The car was awesome, it just took a little while to gain trust in it. At first, I wanted to muscle it but after I learned to relax, sort of like sitting back on a couch and just driving it, it was a lot of fun," Chiovitti said after her run.
Chiovitti, 23, a racer since the age of five, has been seeking a professional ride over the past five years and has endured many ups and downs. Preferring to be recognized for her accomplishments in a male-dominated sport, her resume shouts talent with 18 national karting titles and a slew of regional and club championships. Unlike many other sports that elevate on talent, the road to riches in motor racing often depends on the support of sponsors to fund their climb up the ladder and ultimately into the upper echelons of IndyCar, Formula 1 and NASCAR Nextel Cup racing where talent is finally rewarded based on skill and performance.
Despite the outcome of Nunn's selection, she's no stranger to disappointment and continues to jump at any opportunities that could lead to a fully funded pro ride in the upper ranks. On numerous occasions in the past she's been invited to test sessions in Toyota Atlantic and other cars in an effort to advance. Unfortunately, almost all have led only to how much money a driver can bring to the table to secure a full season's contest. The Nunn Motorsports' opportunity is unique because Nunn already has a sponsor lined up for the effort that's bringing a great deal of media attention to the team. "The test has dropped the odds considerably, but I've learned to ride the roller coaster pretty well. Like it or not, it's the nature of the sport and you have to keep plugging away," she said.
This past season, she advanced into formula car racing after receiving the opportunity for an evaluation based on her 2003 championship title in the Ron Fellows Karting Series. Supported and funded by Sunoco in their Ultra 94 FF2000 team, she contested in the Canadian championship, earned a win and an overall fourth in the point standings. With age being an important factor in driver development, many young drivers are in a rush phase to move up quickly and Chiovitti would like to progress one more notch in 2005.
Often compared in personality to Helio Castroneves, the Italian beauty with long dark hair, sparkling brown eyes and a dimpled smile, is fun to be around and her sense of young spirit and humor is infectious. On track, she's serious and doesn't fear making that last lap dive heading into a final turn at 90 mph trying to out-brake her male competitors. Chiovitti is also a serious business manager, currently running the family's newest kart shop expansion in Las Vegas and managing the race team that's recently won the SuperKarts! USA (SKUSA) national title with driver Alan Sciuto.
"I think it's time," Nunn said, "and I think there are now women out there who don't just drive circles who can be competitive and be up front with the men." St. James, who was 40 years old when she first qualified for the Indy 500, understands completely what Chiovitti and other women are going through to find acceptance and a place in motor sports. "I think when one of these women is in this victory circle," she said, pointing behind TMS' pit row, "then I'll feel like I've accomplished something.
Although no stranger to the winner's circle, Chiovitti's aspirations continue reaching toward the highest level of podiums in racing.