Past the empty stands and coronavirus-induced delay, this year’s Indianapolis 500 will see another profound alter at the famed Brickyard on Sunday — for the first time in 21 decades, there are no female motorists on the beginning grid.

“If we just quietly pretend the difficulty is not taking place, the difficulty is not going to go away,” reported Pippa Mann, who competed at the Indy 500 eight instances and was the only lady in the subject previous calendar year, but was not able to get funding to contend this calendar year.

“Any individual who has at any time worked with female motorists at any stage (…) will flip close to and explain to you that it is way tougher to try and discover the funding and support for female racers who have the exact same history (as) a male racer,” reported Mann, an outspoken advocate for the subsequent generation of female motorists.

“I want them to know they are not preventing by yourself. Simply because for most of my occupation I felt like I was preventing by yourself.”

American Janet Guthrie was the first lady to travel in the Indy 500 in 1977. 9 females have capable in the previous 5 a long time and the race has showcased female competitors every single calendar year given that 2000.

Katherine Legge, a British driver who has 2 times competed at the Indy 500 and in January led her second consecutive all-female team at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, reported this year’s subject is “far more than a coincidence”.

“What IndyCar have to have to do is they have to have to have far more variety on the Street to Indy,” reported Legge, referring to the progress application. “Simply because which is the only way that you are going to get competitive persons go up to IndyCar.”

Legge, recovering from leg operation immediately after a crash previous thirty day period, reported far more female team proprietors and persons in the upper echelons of the sport would support.

Retired driver Danica Patrick told reporters on Wednesday that regardless of 2020’s all-male subject, female motorists have made important development more than the extended time period.

“The story often used to be that there is just one, that there is a female in the race,” reported Patrick, who is also working at the race for NBC broadcast team.

“We have to have to search at the even bigger version to comprehend that it’s far, far far more ordinary now to have ladies in the race.”

IndyCar and IMS, which previous thirty day period introduced the Race for Equality & Modify initiative to boost variety in the sport, reported “We imagine 2020 is an exception fairly than the norm.”