Girl power is the name of the game, or in this case the race.
There are a record five female drivers entered in the Indianapolis 500, and a handful of women work behind the scenes for teams and manufacturers in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Anna Chatten, a gearbox technician for KV Racing Technology, is one with occasionally greasy hands.
On May 30, she’ll also have the honor of being the second female as part of an over-the-wall crew in the Indianapolis 500. She’s the airjack operator for the No. 32 car driven by Mario Moraes. The first woman to work over the wall was Anita Millican, who held the vent hose for driver Larry Dickson in the 1981 and 1982 Indianapolis 500 Mile Races.
Chatten, of Peoria, Ill., relayed that she entered this male-dominated sport mainly due to her father’s influence.
“When I was a little girl, he went go-cart racing and I’m sure my mom said take her with you because she’s in my way for the day,” Chatten said as she assembled the multitude of parts into a gearbox for Paul Tracy’s car. “I saw all the little boys doing it and I thought, ‘Well, that looks fun. I’d like to try it.’
“When I turned 18 I realized I wanted to have a job I liked so I decided to give this a shot. I went to a mechanic school in northern California, spent two years doing that and worked my way up through the ranks.”
I thought being one of the few women to work in such a challenging and demanding environment was inspiring, but Chatten said: “I’ve been here 10 years, I don’t really think too much on it. I’ve never done anything but this. But I don’t think I’d be happy doing anything else.”