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Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing invests in Women in Motorsports

TORONTO — IndyCar legend Scott Dixon wants to open the doors to his sport, especially to women.
Scott Dixon, of New Zealand, drives during practice at the 2022 Honda Indy Toronto in Toronto on Friday, July 15, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO — IndyCar legend Scott Dixon wants to open the doors to his sport, especially to women.

Dixon has thrown his weight being Chip Ganassi Racing's Women in Motorsport initiative, in part because he's the father of two girls, but also because he believes that having women working on IndyCar teams will improve their performance.

"It's such a diverse series of opportunities with IndyCar, from the marketing to operations to the technical side of the cars, there's so many things women can do," said Dixon in the Ganassi trailer at Toronto's Enercare Centre. "And women just plain just do a better job than men at a lot of things."

As part of the Women in Motorsport program Ganassi, with the financial support of PNC Bank, has taken on five paid interns, all of whom are women. Dixon said the interns have brought a new perspective to the data that all IndyCar teams share.

"What is the natural way of getting the most and best information and having someone fresh with a fresh idea?" said Dixon, who is one title behind Mario Andretti for second on IndyCar's all-time wins list. "Or maybe an outside understanding of it, I think forces you to questions it in a different way."

Dixon pointed to Angela Ashmore as an important voice that has given him new insight. An assistant engineer on Ganassi's No. 8 car, she became the first woman to be on an Indianapolis 500-winning team when Sweden's Marcus Ericsson took the checkered flag on May 29.

"There's been many studies over the years that have shown that diverse teams, heterogeneous teams, tend to come to more robust and innovative solutions than groups of like-minded people," said Ashmore in the paddock at the Honda Indy Toronto. "You avoid the group think of people who have been here and always been here and think the same way where it's more difficult to challenge one another."

Ashmore has been working closely with Ganassi's five interns, serving as a mentor. She said it's a chance for them to get their foot in the door in a way that wasn't available when she first graduated from Purdue University with a degree in mechanical engineering.

"They're getting some experience to put on their resume, they're getting their foot in the door, some contacts," said Ashmore. "Those are really difficult things to achieve without knowing someone or having a family member in the business. 

"Overall, we hope to improve the diversity within the paddock and to close the economic gender gap over time."

Dixon, who is a three-time champion at the Honda Indy Toronto, said he's pleased to be racing in Canada again. The New Zealander said racing in another Commonwealth country is the closest he gets to a home course in IndyCar.

"The only thing I wish was different was that we raced here more often," said Dixon, who has been driving in IndyCar for 20 years. "Back in the early days it was two or three times a year. Whether it was Vancouver or Edmonton on places like that. 

"Hopefully those races have a long future and hopefully they can add some more."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 15, 2022.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press