Race week is finally here for Paretta Autosport. More than a year after the Beth Barrett-owned team with driver Simona de Silvestro made their Indianapolis 500 debut, the duo is back where the show debuted with its Chevy-powered entry facilitated by Ed Carpenter Racing at Road America.
The Elkhart Lake road course is the opening of a three-race effort with the Swiss driver returning 16th for rounds of Mid-Ohio and Nashville, and more, if the budget can be found.
“It’s crazy that we’re headed here on Road America,” Baretta told RACER. “It feels like forever since we went racing, but we’ve been in Detroit, obviously, merging with Team Ed. And this is the first time we’ve been integrated into the timing podium, which gives Simona a good opportunity to just sit through all the sessions and see how a team is doing. Ed by his work.”
Paretta tried to find a suitable track for De Silvestro to test before Road America but was unable to make it to the location that IndyCar would approve. As a result, De Silvestro’s first ride in the car will take place on Friday at Free Practice 1, seven years after her last road race where she finished fourth at Andretti Autosport at the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana in 2015.
“You won’t get to test before this race, but we will probably do a test at the end of June,” Baretta said. “It would be before mid-Ohio and Nashville, but we couldn’t find a logical way to get a test done; we tried.
“We’ve been trying to do a mid-Ohio test, but we can’t, so we’ll probably do a test later this month before mid-Ohio. But she’s got two days in the Chevy simulator, so that’s a good start.”
De Silvestro, for its part, ramped up its physical training program to restore the upper body muscles and stamina needed to use a car with nearly 5,000 pounds of downforce and no power steering.
“It’s a good thing, even last year when we were preparing and I called her for the first time and we were getting everything together, she immediately changed that week to what is required for IndyCar,” Baretta said. “She’s been doing a lot of training all the time and I don’t think she really lacks any area that much.”
Although ECR will manage Paretta Autosport’s entry, Paretta wants to continue her team’s core initiative to develop women racers in all roles just as it did at the Indy 500 last year where nearly 20 women centrally participated in the program. As Baretta is looking to grow her team to work full time, she will be busy developing more women to join her on a regular basis.
“I invited four out of the six women to the wall again and some of them had previous commitments during the three races, so some would be in different races, and I lost two people from last year because they’re on two different teams,” Barretta said. Madison Conrad, she works for Roush Yates and has been promoted, she supports the NASCAR Cup teams on the road, so we won’t be able to host her this year and I have to look for a replacement woman for the crew.
“One thing we’re looking at is if we still like the NASCAR model where you have an indoor flyer that can go over the wall to stop in a pit. We just want to get to where we can build a strong pit crew that will also be mechanical.
“My goal is to find more women for the team in the greater Indianapolis area to train with Team Ed and Team Penske has done more training for our women as well. And we were actually looking at trying to find some athletes, maybe ex-Olympic players, ex-college athletes, who could Come and help us out on the weekends.”