IPS: Six women vie for Nunn IPS seat

IPS: Six women vie for Nunn IPS seat

Six women were nominated for the Nunn Racing shootout to find a suitable female for Kathryn Nunn's Menards Infiniti Pro Series team that won three races this season with P.J. Chesson at the helm of the ...

Six women were nominated for the Nunn Racing shootout to find a suitable female for Kathryn Nunn's Menards Infiniti Pro Series team that won three races this season with P.J. Chesson at the helm of the #76 Pioneer Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone challenger.

Wendy Mathis, Juliana Chiovitti, Rossella Manfrinato, Becca Anderson, Sarah McCune and Sandi Eden.
Photo by Gregg Ellman - IRL.
Nunn, the sole woman to field an Indy Racing League teamm at this time is working with Lyn St. James, whose stated aim is to propel women to where she has been - to compete in the Indy Racing League's Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

The six ladies involved in this test arrived at Texas Motor Speedway's daunting 1.5-mile oval with, for the most part, no experience in this type of racing car. First out on the banked oval was Sondi Eden, the 27-year- old from Crawfordsville, IN. Eden, whose vast experience is in midget and sprint cars - many of which have way more horsepower than the Menards Infiniti Pro Series cars - was, nonetheless, impressed with the aerodynamics of the machine she drove today.

Butch Winkle, crew chief for Kathryn Nunn's Pro Series team said he was giving each of the drivers 15 laps to get acclimated (and over their awe of the formidable Texas Motor Speedway circuit), then making adjustments for another 15 laps and a third series of changes in order to make the car comfortable.

Rossella Manfrinato.
Photo by Gregg Ellman - IRL.
Eden had a big smile as she exited the car, as did Rossella Manfrinato, the 35-year-old Italian, a former Dallara engineer who gave up her position to advance her driving career. Rossella was next up for her hour and a half in the car and she, too, came away with smiles this morning. Manfrinato's racing experience has centered in the sports racing SCCA classes.

During the afternoon Wendy Mathis, the 25-year-old Floridian, specializing in midget racing who was on hand here for the announcement of this test during the season-closing Chevy 500K weekend last month had the first afternoon stint, followed by Becca Anderson, 25 who lives about 20 minutes south of Dover Downs Raceway in Delaware and competes in URC sprint car competition.

Tomorrow belongs to Sarah McCune, who has an unfair advantage over her five competitors, having driven two IndyCar Series and a Menards Infiniti Pro Series racer in previous testing. Then Juliana Chiovitti gets behind the wheel for her first stabs at the Pro series car. The former Sutton, Ontario resident, 23, grew up in Italy, but currently resides in Henderson, NV, a favored spot for racing drivers.

Juliana Chiovitti.
Photo by Gregg Ellman - IRL.
And there's a seventh driver on-hand for the test as Katherine Legge, 27, flew from the UK to be on hand, just in case. Katherine was fitted for the car late in the afternoon after Anderson's run and might, just might have a chance to drive tomorrow or Wednesday afternoon - provided her competitors keep the car as clean as it remained once the full day was complete.

Beautiful testing weather greeted all at Texas Motor Speedway today, sans cloud cover and with balmy temperatures. More of the same is predicted for Tuesday's test date, while some showers are forecast for Wednesday, which could cut the selection time short.

Enthusiasm for the test bounded throughout the pit road and even the subtle clink of Chiovitti's high-heeled boots couldn't change the proceedings. Who will get the ride?

That depends on the veracity of each woman's test and the possibility of landing appropriate sponsorship. Nunn even noted she might field a four- car Menards Infiniti Pro Series team in 2005 (she intends to run P.J. and James Chesson), but that equation depends on the ability of the women involved to find appropriate backing.

"This sport is backwards in some ways," McCune alluded. "In football, if you've got talent you'll land with a team; in racing you have to bring money in, so sometimes it's the people with financing who get the jobs, not necessarily the most talented drivers."

The axiom has been true over the years but these six - seven? - ladies sure hope that, after this test they've seen the last of that type of thing. They're not the only ones.

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Lyn St. James , Juliana Chiovitti , Katherine Legge , James Chesson , P.J. Chesson , Wendy Mathis , Rossella Manfrinato , Becca Anderson , Sandi Eden , Sarah McCune