By Ken Reed
For the first time in in Indianapolis 500 history, a racing team made up of mostly women will participate in the race this year.
The Paretta Autosport team is comprised of about 70% women, including the driver, owner and crew. This new first in auto racing comes 44 years after Janet Guthrie became the first woman to race in the Indy 500.
Team owner Beth Paretta acknowledges and gives kudos to the women that came before her team.
“We stand on their shoulders,” says Paretta.
“There have been women that have been mechanics that had to hide the fact they were women, had to wear bandanas over their hair so that … people wouldn’t be heckling them.”
The Paretta Autosport team is part of Indy 500 track owner Roger Penske’s Race for Equality and Change initiative that launched last summer. It’s one of many efforts to make the speedway more diverse and inclusive.
It’s a terrific development for a sport that has long been one of the most sexist sectors in our society.
Guthrie knows that all too well.
“The general idea was women don’t have the strength, the endurance, the emotional stability, women are going to endanger our lives,” says Guthrie, reflecting on the atmosphere she experienced when she hit the starting line at the Indy 500 track in 1977. “And you could read that on the newspapers most every day.”
Guthrie recalls fans yelling “Get the (breasts) out of the pits!”
Paretta appreciates the hardships Guthrie and other women at the Indy 500 have had to endure but she’s focused on the present and future. She hopes her team inspires more women to get involved in motor sports.
“Racing is the only sport today that can be coed at the pro level and I think that’s a really amazing comment,” says Paretta. “Because if you look at everywhere else — business, industry, science sectors — life is coed.”
As Guthrie says about sports and life, “Doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. If you’re a pro, you’re a pro.”
Here’s a shout-out to Roger Penske for his equality initiative and another to Beth Paretta and her team for knocking down another barrier to equality.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. He previously covered the Los Angeles Dodgers for The Athletic. His new book is titled “How to Beat a Broken Game: The Rise of the Dodgers in a League on the Brink.” We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
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Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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