Chip Ganassi Racing, in conjunction with PNC Bank, has set up a Women In Motorsports campaign and internship program – and Danielle Shepherd, Angela Ashmore and Anna Chatten welcome it with open arms.
Ashmore is an assistant data systems engineer for NTT IndyCar driver Marcus Ericsson, Chatten is a gearbox mechanic for IndyCar driver Jimmie Johnson and Shepherd is the chief engineer for the No. 2 Cadillac on the IMSA side for Ganassi.
The trio are working the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach this weekend, having the time of their lives because they love their jobs.
This program is something that could invite more women into what remains a male-dominated sport.
“I like to think of myself as a team person,” Ashmore said. “But obviously I notice that I’m one of the few women on the field and around the paddock. And it makes me kind of proud to feel like I’ve made it and it’s not an easy path and there might not be as many opportunities out there for you. At least the most obvious.
“So it makes me proud to have had a passion and to have made it work. Yes, in fact, I think it’s a great initiative that PNC Bank is sponsoring.
Chatten and Shepherd echoed those sentiments.
“Yeah, sure, that’s definitely a long way coming,” Chatten said. “Chip Ganassi is one of the most accomplished racing teams in the IndyCar paddock. To be able to support an initiative like this with PNC Bank is incredible.
Said Shepherd: “Yeah, I mean, I think it’s a great opportunity. It’s great to give women the chance to do something and get a specific internship for which they are not necessarily the majority applicants.
Shepherd added that the presence of women in motorsport has been growing since she started with the company six years ago.
“But hopefully it’s just a way to accelerate that growth and keep it going,” she said.
They are passionate
Ashmore spoke about what this job does for her.
“I like the competitive atmosphere because I’m a very competitive person, but there’s also this instant gratification when you work on something,” she said. “You know that weekend or that day or even minutes after you did it or you implemented a change whether it was successful or not.
“There’s also a quick turnaround, so if you have a bad day, it won’t be long before you have another chance to redeem yourself.”
Chatten has been in the business for 20 years, although she took a break from full-time work when she became a mother to two daughters, now aged 6 and 7. She gets back into the saddle regularly.
“Well, I grew up around motor racing so my dad was kind of my first interest in motor racing and he bought a go-kart and we raced go-karts with him,” a- she declared. “Part of the deal was like when I go to the race track if I work on my own stuff.”
Chatten seems happy to be some sort of role model.
“If there are any little girls coming to the race this weekend with their dad, I hope they see me and know it’s a possibility, if it’s something they want to do “, she said.
Shepherd wasn’t sure what she wanted to do when she entered college, but she ended up majoring in math and physics. She said she had always been a fan of IndyCar and Champ Car from a young age.
“It’s just the excitement of racing and competing and it’s sort of the direct feedback of your results,” she said. “Like if you’re doing a good job you can actually see what’s going on around you and stuff, so it’s just the competition of trying to get things done and just trying to get the cars going. faster.”
Shepherd worked on Indy cars for five years before moving to IMSA. She hinted that everyone on Chip Ganassi’s team felt at home.
“I mean, I know we’re sitting here and talking about it and everything,” she said, of being a woman in a male-dominated sport. “But on a day-to-day basis it’s really not a thing. Everyone in the team treats you the same.
“I feel like I’m here at Chip Ganassi because I’m a good engineer and I respond well to the job, not because I’m a woman. I know I’m doing things few women have done and I hope I can use that as an inspiration for other women to succeed.
Part of the Women in Motorsports campaign focuses on gender equality. Chatten was quick to say she was being treated fairly by Chip Ganassi in this regard.
“Yes, I think my compensation in the IndyCar paddock is on par,” she said. “I think what’s unique here is that it’s still so male dominated that it would be really blatant if they chose not to, so it couldn’t really go that way, I do not think so.”
The internship program was made available to women in college.
“Partnering with PNC to launch Women In Motorsports reflects our commitment to help advance opportunities for women in sport,” Ganassi said in a press release. “We are delighted to highlight the achievements of our team members and share a behind-the-scenes look at their contributions to this championship organization, which hopefully will help pave the way for female students to develop specialist skills in areas such as racing operations. and from engineering to information technology and sports coaching, to name a few.