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IMS Writers’ Roundtable: Volume 4

Today’s question: The 35th annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day is Wednesday, Feb. 3. So, in that spirit, which past or active female driver who never has made an Indianapolis 500 start would you like to see compete in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing?”

Curt Cavin: Stock car driver Shawna Robinson gets my nod if for no other reason than she could have brought her female team owner, Beth Ann Morgenthau.

BAM Motorsports fielded cars for Ken Schrader, Mike Bliss and John Andretti, among others, and would have been a welcomed addition to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. As for Robinson, she didn’t have the strongest of resumes, but she is one of the few women to qualify for the Daytona 500, and she had a couple of shining moments on very fast tracks (a pole for an Xfinity Series race at Atlanta and finishing second in an ARCA race at Daytona).

There certainly are accomplished drag racers who would have been interesting entries at Indy – Shirley Muldowney, any of the three Force sisters, Angelle Sampey, Erica Enders – but I couldn’t choose a straight-liner for left turns.

Zach Horrall: I’ve got two choices of female race car drivers that I would love to see in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

My choice of current driver is the up-and-coming Hailie Deegan, who has proven she’s not afraid to jump in any vehicle with four wheels, including several stock car ranks, IMSA and off-road trucks. She’s a proven winner in NASCAR with the audacious mentality that it takes to run 500 miles in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” We’ve seen what coming up racing off-road can do for one’s career (hello Rick Mears and Jimmie Johnson), so let’s see what you got, Hailie!

Always a nut for history, for my second choice I have to go back in time and pick one of the most iconic women in racing, Shirley Muldowney. The winner of 18 NHRA events and three Top Fuel championships, Muldowney isn’t just one of the best female drag racers, she’s one of the best drag racers, period. Muscling a Top Fuel dragster in a straight line isn’t as easy as it seems. It takes guts, strength and talent. Coincidentally enough, that’s also what it takes to win the Indy 500.

Paul Kelly: Come on, Zach – you stole my pick with Shirley Muldowney! Actually, Shirley came to mind second. My first choice would be a driver probably unknown to most North American racing fans because the series in which she competed sadly isn’t popular in these parts. And we all know how I love to dive into the obscure for my selections.

The choice? World Rally Championship legend Michele Mouton.

Frenchwoman Mouton won four rallies during her 12-year career in the WRC and finished runner-up in the championship in 1982 for the powerful Audi Sport factory team. Mouton’s accomplishments are even more impressive considering she drove in easily the wildest, wooliest and most dangerous era of the sport – the Group B days.

Group B cars were monsters. Period. They had limited technical restrictions, and the engines for these cars pumped out close to 500 horsepower before the class was outlawed after the 1986 season for safety reasons. That’s right – 500-horsepower cars hauling the mail at triple-digit speeds on gravel, mud, asphalt and snow, snaking inches from trees, rocks and other obstacles.

Something tells me that if you could thread the needle in an Audi Quattro with that kind of power, you could handle Turn 1 at the start of the Indianapolis 500. Car control wouldn’t have been a problem for Mouton, as she was used to sliding sideways at 100-plus mph between trees.

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