Ana "Bia" Beatriz Caselato Gomes de Figueiredo is a Brazilian racing driver currently competing in the IZOD Indycar Series. Beatriz made a name for herself in the racing world when she became the first woman to win a race in the Indy Lights series at the Nashville Superspeedway on July 12, 2008. She followed that up with a second second Indy Lights race win on June 20, 2009, becoming the first woman to win a race car event at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.
Since 1911 when the first race was held, the Indianapolis 500 has been an event dominated by men. For the first few decades this was a given, considering women were not allowed to participate. It wasn’t until 1971 that a female reporter was even allowed in the pit crew and a female racer was unheard of until 1977 when Janet Guthrie qualified for the event. Female participation has come a little ways since then with eight women successfully qualifying and as it turns out, the most popular Indy 500 drivers as ranked by Google are actually women.
Brazilian racing driver, Ana Beatriz, comes in ranked at number four with 110,000 hits in one month, followed by Swiss race car driver, Simona de Silvestro with 165,000 hits. American auto racing driver, Danica Patrick, surprisingly falls in second place with 246,000, while Venezuelan race car driver, Milka Duno heads the pack by a long shot of 550,000 hits per month.
So even though the record for most victories is still tied up by three men (A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, and Rick Mears have each won four), women are joining in on the fun. Once they catch up with the 66 year head start given to the men, maybe they’ll earn a few records of their own. They are definitely on their way.