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Woman Spotlight Wednesday: Angela Ashmore

Written by Alejandra Guajardo Lozano, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Credits - Grace Hollars, IndyStar

Women have played an influential role throughout the history of motor racing. Many have taken to the wheels of motorsport machines, while numerous figures have worked tirelessly on the sidelines in various roles, shaping the racing world to the present day. Woman Spotlight Wednesday aims to take a look at the tales of these superwomen, who have surpassed various hurdles to reach where they are today.

Today, the spotlight shines on a brilliant and passionate engineer working in the ever-buzzing field of IndyCar, Angela Ashmore.

Angela grew up in western Michigan. Her dad fuelled her love for motorsport, right from an early age. They would spend their time together, either watching short-track contests at the local Berlin Raceway, or NASCAR. Angela’s dad and uncle even raced together, her dad doubling up as a one-man pit crew.

When Angela got to high school, she knew she wanted a career in the motorsports world. She finally opted for engineering, and after excelling in mathematics and science, she took an intro to engineering class, where she had to build a car. She also took a summer job at Ponstein Racing, a Michigan-based team competing in the CRA late model series.

When Ashmore graduated high school and got into Purdue, she realised this was going to be a challenge, one she was willing to face with passion and intelligence. She also landed a spot with Purdue's Formula SAE, where 30 students work together to build a single-seater open-wheel race car and compete against other universities.

“Formula SAE was a great experience for me,” Angela said, in an interview for Purdue University. “It helped me hone certain skills that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It also gave me a lot of experience to put on my resume, and helped me get my foot in the door.”

Having graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Ashmore went to work for Chrysler, and returned to Purdue for a master's degree in mechanical engineering. She finally received the chance to get into motorsports, five years after graduating.

Ashmore became the third engineer on a Roush Fenway race team, and after plenty of hard work, she became a race engineer for Trevor Bayne and then got promoted to David Ragan's lead engineer. She made NASCAR history as the first female crew chief

Although she loved working in NASCAR, travelling up and down 38 times was a struggle for Angela, having been really far away from her family in the Midwest. So landing an engineering job at the IndyCar team, Chip Ganassi, sounded like the perfect solution.

In 2022, the spotlight shone on this young race engineer, her brilliance standing out as she led her driver, Marcus Ericsson, to the victory in one of motorsport’s most iconic races, the Indy 500.

Angela didn’t know it at the moment, but she was later informed of a worthy achievement, having become the first woman on an Indy 500 team to ever win the race, in any position, in 106 years. 

"It was pretty incredible. It's the biggest race in our sport, one of the biggest races in the world," she said. "The race has a lot of history and being the first female to win, that's a big accomplishment."

Even Ericsson was surprised about this fact, and shared his thoughts on this with the media.

"First of all, I was shocked when I heard that she was the first woman. I was sure it had happened before," said Ericsson. "It's crazy it hadn't happened before. It's so great to be part of that history and I'm hoping it will help push more women into the sport."

With the Swede departing one IndyCar giant for another, as Ericsson heads to Andretti, Angela was recently appointed as Marcus Armstrong's lead engineer for the 2024 season.

Ashmore also serves as a close mentor to young women part of the Women In Motorsports program, which offers free internships with housing to women in college and technical schools across the United States. 

She is always looking to inspire young women looking to forge their way into a man-dominated sport, showing them it’s possible with hard work and passion. Truly a super woman.

Image Credits - IndyCar


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