Showing Them How To Race

If a race car doesn’t care about the gender of its driver, why should anyone else?

NIKA ROLCZEWSKI
SPECIAL TO THE STAR

But it has been a struggle for Indy Racing League driver Sarah Fisher: after a podium finish at Miami’s Homestead Speedway in 2001, Fisher found finding sponsorship a daunting task. You would think being voted the most popular driver the last three years would have companies banging at her door, but it wasn’t that easy.

She qualified ninth at the 2002 Indy 500, scoring the fastest lap ever completed by a woman at 229 mph (360 km/h). She drove her way to a pole position at Kentucky Speedway, again breaking records as the first female to achieve that and breaking a track record in the meantime.

Though she’s only 23, her accomplishments on and off the track are admirable.

Fisher, supported by companies like brake maker Raybestos and Tag Heuer, of Swiss watch fame, has a viable chance of winning. Talented and determined, her advice for anyone who wants to race is to stay focused. She certainly has.

At this weekend’s Indianapolis 500, she can be found on the seventh row in 19th position.

“I think we’ve been pretty good today,” she said after the last day of qualifying. “I feel pretty comfortable, really comfortable in the car by myself. In traffic, we just have to use the tools in the car to get the car to handle how I want it to.

“When I can achieve that, the car will be great in traffic.”

Without her on the grid, the call would return to “Gentlemen, start your engines.”

Asked what it’s like as a female driver in a male-dominated sport, she says: “During my entire racing career, I have never emphasized the fact that I am female. This attitude has been well respected by all of the competitors that I have raced with.

“I am not in the sport to illustrate or grow the `power of women.’ My entire focus is on winning races and being the best at what I do.”

Jean-Christophe Babin, president and CEO of Tag Heuer, which recently became the official IRL timekeeper, says that “if one woman will ever make it to Formula One, it will be Sarah Fisher.”

Although she has tested an F1 car, she doesn’t see her future there. Instead, she has her eye on being presented with the Tag Heuer Indy 500 Chronograph in the winner’s circle.

Nika

Nika

Nika has had a love for cars and racing since childhood. A regional racing license holder she has been involved with the industry, working with racers, teams, journalists and automobile manufacturers in sponsorship solicitation, logistics, hospitality, road show and communication program implementation.