- Beth Paretta, whose team was the darling of last year’s month of May, will not take part in this year’s running of the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500.
- Veteran driver Simona de Silvestro will return behind the wheel for the team and compete in road course races at Road America (June 12) and Mid-Ohio (July 3), as well as the street course event in Nashville (August 7).
- The team will carry a new sponsorship on its No. 16 Chevrolet-powered Dallara from KiwiCo, a Bay Area firm.
The venue was the same as last year and many of the main players were the same as last year, too, but Tuesday afternoon’s Paretta Autosport announcement at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was not the same in its scope.
The IndyCar team owned by veteran automotive industry executive Beth Paretta, which was the darling of last year’s month of May, will NOT take part in this year’s running of the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500.
“The speculation online, none of you were right,” Paretta said.
She then expanded on why she decided to skip Indy this year.
“I’ve been working on this probably since like August 1 of last year,” Paretta said. “My intention was always 500-plus. If we were going to do the 500, it was always not going to be just the 500. Then, in talking to Ed (new partner Ed Carpenter), knowing like where is the constraints? We knew there’s some challenges with how many people are available and how many cars are available. So then it’s like, let’s look at an alternate way to do this.”
However, even without racing at Indianapolis this year, Paretta did have three key announcements.
First, the team will compete in three races in 2022. Veteran driver Simona de Silvestro will return behind the wheel and compete in road course races at Road America (June 12) and Mid-Ohio (July 3), as well as the street course event in Nashville (August 7).
“As we said last year, our intention is to grow to be a full-time team,” Paretta said. “I’m so excited about these partnerships that are going to allow us to do that. This pivot (not racing at Indianapolis), and what we’re doing for 2022, is an investment in our future.”
In addition to the three races, Paretta said there “are possible added events as our schedules allow.”
Second, Paretta has joined forces with Ed Carpenter Racing for a technical alliance and partnership that will include personnel and operations support. Paretta Autosport had a partnership last season with Team Penske.
“Ed Carpenter Racing will support us with technical knowledge, race operations support, and added manpower,” Paretta said. “His team has had success in the IndyCar Series and we are looking forward to collaborating.”
Added Carpenter, “Beth and I’ve discussed varieties of ways of trying to collaborate on her dreams and Paretta Autosport over the past couple of years. It took us a little while to find the right fit, but we’re finally there. So we’re very excited to be a part of this partnership and to help Paretta Autosport continue on its journey and making it a full reality to get to where you want to go.”
Because Carpenter had plans on already running three cars in this year’s Indianapolis 500, Paretta said it was more prudent for her own team to forego Indy and focus on the other races.
“It wasn’t as appealing for us to be a fourth car in Ed’s system, because it’s about that pragmatic growth,” Paretta said. “If we’re sitting across the table and crafting this together, there’s two things at play here: it’s a smart competition decision and a smart business decision. And both of those things are weighed equally, especially if you’re in Ed’s or my chair.
“So the decision was, okay, they’re going to do the three cars for the 500. But then this allows us to have room to do these races later in the year. And so I’ve known that answer for months (that she wouldn’t enter this year’s Indy 500).”
But, Paretta added, “I’ve had people approach me in the past two months asking me to reconsider the 500. And I will say that I said I will think about this, and let’s talk about it. But I was unwilling to not do the road and street courses that we were planning to do. So this for me was not an either/or, it had to be ‘an and,’ and it just wasn’t a good fit. And this, to me, what we’re doing is growth for my team, it’s getting our women to new places, it’s getting Simona to new places. And if our intention is to be a full-time team, this is a better investment in us.”
And third, the team will carry a new sponsorship on its No. 16 Chevrolet-powered Dallara from KiwiCo, a Bay Area firm that produces educational and science-related project kits to stimulate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning primarily for children.
“Our mission with Paretta Autosport has always been to help grow the sport of racing, in the paddock, at the stands, and in viewers at home,” Paretta said. “So we want to capture the imagination of kids by connecting what we do on-track to learning off the track, and knowing that this interest could be the foundation to STEM-based careers.”
De Silvestro joins rookie IndyCar driver Tatiana Calderon, of AJ Foyt Racing, to give the NTT IndyCar Series two regular female competitors for the first time since 2013.
“I mean, it’s fantastic,” Paretta said. “It’s great for the fans, it’s great for growing the sport and, I mean, there’s room for more (females), jump on in. The water’s fine.”
However, neither de Silvestro nor Calderon will take part in this year’s Indy 500.
“It’s good to be back and I’m really looking forward to this opportunity,” said de Silvestro, who called in from her home in Zurich, Switzerland. “We started something last year and we’re really hoping to grow.”
Follow Autoweek contributor Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski
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