Armed with a welding torch and bolstered by a college grant, a GoFundMe account and help from some enthusiastic classmates, she entered the 2017 Grassroots Motorsports Challenge in Florida, scoring a respectable seventh-place finish and coverage in The Wall Street Journal, Autoweek and other national media.
Last year, Ms. Hackenberg earned her official Sports Car Club of America racing license. She is training as a mechanic at Arrow McLaren SP, a firm in Indianapolis that competes in the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series races.
Whether their interest lies in vintage motorsports, automotive preservation and collecting, or all of the above, “more and more young women want to participate,” said Theresa Gilpatrick, former longtime executive director of the Ferrari Club of America. She urges younger women to “go for it” and added: “Get on LinkedIn, search for women in the niche you’re interested in. Reach out and don’t be bashful.”
To encourage such interest, for the first time in its 70-year history the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Carmel, Calif., will present a stand-alone women’s forum on Friday. The event, “Women Who Love Their Cars,” will feature introductory remarks by Lyn St. James, the first woman to win the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award, and Sandra Button, chairman of the Pebble Beach Company, which produces the Concours event. Panelists include Renee Brinkerhoff, the first woman to win her class in La Carrera Panamericana race in Mexico, who has campaigned her Porsche 356 in rallies around the globe to combat child trafficking, as well as the well-known vintage car collectors Jacque Connor, Merle Mullin and Lisa Taylor.
“Our mantra is to get women in the left seat,” said a forum co-chair, Cindy Sisson, chief executive of GSEvents, which recently introduced “Shifting Gears” Zoom meetings and podcasts aimed at female car enthusiasts. “Our forum will be an opportunity for the other gender to express their love of and for cars.”
In June, Hagerty, among the world’s largest insurer of collector cars and specialty vehicles, offered its perspective on women’s impact on the world of classic conveyances. According to the firm, though still small in absolute numbers, the number of its female policyholders grew almost 30 percent between 2010 and 2020. The biggest increases were among women in Generation X (41 to 56 years old) and millennials (24 to 40).
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Moreover, Hagerty notes, its data does not reflect the many collectible vehicles that women hold jointly with a husband or partner.