School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI fueling growth of women in motorsports

Description of the following video:

[Words appear in upper-left corner: IUPUI presents]

[Video: Lauren Turnbull, an IUPUI student, stands along pit lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She's wearing radio headphones and is watching as cars goes by. Later, an IndyCar is seen driving along pit lane.]

Turnbull speaks in voiceover: There are very few females that are working in the IndyCar garages, …

[Video: Turnbull appears on camera.]

[Words appear: Lauren Turnbull, Motorsports engineering student]

Turnbull speaks: … both with the series and with the teams.  It's pretty…pretty rare to …

[Video: The pagoda at the IMS, along with shots of the track and stands, can be seen. Later, an IndyCar team is pushing an IndyCar on a platform for inspection in a garage; then Turnbull can be seen holding a clipboard, ready to help inspect the IndyCar just seen in the previous scene.]

Turnbull speaks in voiceover: … see a female out here, so it is kind of a pioneer role.

[Video: Doug Boles, president of the IMS, appears on camera.]

[Words appear: Doug Boles, President, Indianapolis Motor Speedway]

Boles speaks: There's a significant amount of growth in terms of females that are participating in the series, but there are so many women that are involved in actually putting these cars on the racetrack, …

[Video: Turnbull is seen putting on her radio headphones in front of the tech garages. Later she is seen writing on a clipboard, and talking to her supervisor in the tech garages. Then she oversees a team pushing an IndyCar off of its ramp, after it has passed inspection.]

Boles speaks in voiceover: … whether they are gearbox folks, whether they are engineers on the pit stand or whether they are folks working in technical inspection. There are more women involved in making sure that this sport takes place.

[Video: A close-up of an IndyCar semitruck is shown. Later, the outside of the IndyCar tech inspection garage is shown.]

Turnbull speaks in voiceover: I'll be doing tech inspection with the IndyCar Series. Just making sure that the cars are …

[Video: Turnbull is helping her supervisor with technical inspection. He double-checks her work.]

Turnbull speaks in voiceover: … within the rules and regulations set forth by the series. Checking things like the track width, the wheel base, all sorts of things like that, just to make sure that the …

[Video: Turnbull appears on camera.]

Turnbull speaks: … competitive balance is -- is still there.

[Video: The entrance to Gasoline Alley is shown, along with the IMS pagoda.]

Terri Talbert-Hatch, associate dean for recruitment, retention and student services, speaks in voiceover: We started really doing intentional marketing for more …

[Video: Talbert-Hatch appears on camera.]

[Words appear: Terri Talbert-Hatch; Associate Dean for Recruitment, Retention, and Student Services]

Talbert-Hatch speaks: … females in 2012,

[Video: The IMS logo is shown, followed by an IndyCar waiting to go into a garage for tech inspection. Later, Turnbull is seen putting on her radio headphones in front of the IndyCar Technical Inspection garage.]

Talbert-Hatch speaks: … and from 2012 until fall of 2018, we increased our females from about 12 percent to a little over 20 percent. We're really doing a lot because …

[Video: Talbert-Hatch appears on camera.]

Talbert-Hatch speaks: … business and industry wants females, and there are so many opportunities for females.

[Video: Turnbull stands along pit lane at the IMS. She's wearing radio headphones and is watching as cars goes by. Later, she is seen in the tech inspection garage, writing on a clipboard.]

Turnbull speaks in voiceover: The end goal is definitely to be a race engineer on a team, preferably in IndyCar, …

[Video: Turnbull appears on camera.]

Turnbull speaks: … but I'm open to all series of racing,

[Video: Turnbull is seen, walking in slow motion, along the tech garages, in front of the Gasoline Alley sign.]

Turnbull speaks in voiceover: … just as long as I'm in racing -- that's really all I want to do.

[Screen goes to black]

[IU trident appears]

[Words appear: IUPUI]

[Words appear: Fulfilling the promise]

[Words appear: iupui.edu]

[END OF TRANSCRIPT]

Lauren Turnbull plans to spend many more Mays at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as an engineer.

Before IndyCars are allowed on the famed 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, they have to pass through garage C32 for tech inspection, known simply as "tech" to teams and their crews.

In the inspection bay, cars are fastidiously measured and weighed, all in the name of compliance and safety. A team of inspectors works in a choreographed dance of sorts -- there's one measuring wing assemblies, another peeking under the car, yet another measuring ride height.

"We're checking things like the track width, the wheelbase, weighing all the cars -- just making sure that the competitive balance is still there," explained Lauren Turnbull, part of the inspection team.

Lauren Turnbull writing on a clipboardView print quality image
Lauren Turnbull has been working in Gasoline Alley at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this month as part of IndyCar's technical inspection team. Before any cars went on the track, she helped make sure they were fully compliant with series rules and regulations. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

It is both significant -- and not at all -- that Turnbull is the only woman in C32.

This year marks the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500, a cherished motorsports tradition since 1911. Yet not until 1971 were women officially allowed in the pits or the famed Gasoline Alley garage area. Of course, women began driving in the race in 1977 with Janet Guthrie -- followed by others including Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick and, again this year, Pippa Mann -- but records are less clear about when women became more prominent in the garages as crew members and engineers.

The consensus, however, is that their numbers are better than ever, with room for growth.

"There's a significant amount of growth in terms of females participating in the IndyCar series," Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles said. "When you think about it, you immediately think about the drivers, but there are so many women who are involved in actually putting these cars on the race track.

"Whether they're gearbox folks, engineers on the pit stand or folks working in technical inspection, there are more women involved in making sure that this sport takes place than just what you think of when you think of the drivers. And it has grown quite a bit, even over the last two or three years, versus where it was."

Part of that growth can be directly traced 3 1/2 miles southeast of the speedway, specifically to the School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI, where its pioneering Purdue program in motorsports engineering continues to prepare men and women for careers in racing.

That preparation comes with opportunities for students like Turnbull, a rising junior who is one of three motorsports engineering students to land an internship with the NTT IndyCar Series, in Indianapolis for May and traveling the rest of the summer.

"Every year we have the opportunity to have two to four students in that program," said Terri Talbert-Hatch, associate dean for recruitment, retention and student services at the school. "The key to it is that the students who do this are just completing either their first or second year of studies, so it really gives them a taste of motorsports early on."

The internship program gets more competitive each year, Talbert-Hatch said, with 15 students applying this year.

Once they've had that taste, many of the students are hooked. Rising senior Lizzie Todd, who had the internship in 2017, is interning this summer with Penske Racing at its shop in North Carolina.

"I want to be a race engineer -- I want to call the shots, tell the cars when to pit, what wing angle changes to make, chassis changes to make the car go faster," Todd said.

Eight women are working full time on the competition side of the series, including two engineers on defending series champion Scott Dixon's car and a chief engineer at Firestone, the tire supplier for the series.

That's a nice number, yet it's a small fraction of the total number of engineers and crew in the country's leading open-wheel racing series. Expect that gap to close over time, with the motorsports engineering program at the School of Engineering and Technology being up on the wheel to help.