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Women in Motorsports program gives Chip Ganassi Racing a competitive edge

Honda Indy Toronto Honda Indy Toronto - The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Chip Ganassi Racing has been at the forefront of hiring women to its IndyCar Racing team, a strategy that has helped put two of its drivers atop the season's standings.

Anna Chatten, a gearbox mechanic for Ganassi, said that hiring women has created a more diverse range of voices on the team and fostered a more creative atmosphere. She believes it's one of the factors that has drivers Alex Palou and Scott Dixon Nos. 1 and 2 respectively in IndyCar.

"Obviously, females in motor racing are still a huge minority but we bring something different to the table than your average mechanic. We've recognized that here," said Chatten, gesturing to a Ganassi trailer behind her at the paddock of the Honda Indy Toronto. "Upper management here recognizes that that's a benefit to us in a lot of different ways.

"Just because basically, a lot of times you have a different way or a different perspective of looking at things."

Chatten said that she and other women on the Ganassi team also have a different mindset.

"I definitely had to want this more than my peers. I still do at some points," said Chatten, who began her career more than 20 years ago. "Definitely when I very first started, people looked at me extra close, waited for me to make a mistake so they could be like, 'oh, yeah, see, we told you so this wasn't a good idea.'"

"I think there was a point in my career where that made me bitter about life, but really when I look back on it now it just made me that much better."

Ganassi has partnered with PNC Bank to create the Women in Motorsports program that includesa two-month internship that gives women the opportunity to work in the team's different technical departments. This year's intern class has Raegen Moody in Ganassi's engineering department, Hailey Hein in mechanics, and Nicole Goodman in information technology.

"We want to win races, right? We want the best people to do that," said Chatten, who is a Women in Motorsports mentor and gearbox mechanic on Dixon's No. 9 PNC Bank Honda. "This program is not something where we're just checking the equality checkbox.

"We're interested in winning races and we want the best people to do that. The female market is something that I don't think is super tapped into on that point."

Dixon sees the internship program as just another way of innovating and creating a competitive edge.

"You're in a business of winning or performance, so you're always looking for different avenues to find smart people," said Dixon inside the Ganassi trailer. "It's been great for the temperament of the team with adding more women to it.

"Women think differently than men so it creates a different conversation."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2023.