INDIANAPOLIS – Everything about Pippa Mann stands out at the Indy 500, from her bright, pink and white breast cancer awareness IndyCar ride to being the only woman in a field of 33 drivers in Sunday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In her sixth Indy 500 – her best finish was 18th last year – the 33-year-old British driver is a part-time IndyCar Series pilot in The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, and since 2011, she has competed in 15 races in the top series. While she appreciates the impact of simply being on the track and is grateful to represent Dale Coyne Racing – the team she’s been with in the Indy 500 since 2013 – she was refreshingly honest about her goals for the race, and they have nothing to do with being the only woman.
“You’re meant to say, ‘Oh yeah, we’re here to win the race – everybody’s here to win the race,’ (but) this is my first IndyCar race of the year,” Mann told For The Win.
“(If) we get things right on race day, I still think that we – maybe, hopefully – have the potential to be a top 15 car. But that’s a reasonable, realistic expectation goal to set for a one-off driver jumping into a one-off car for a part-time program at the Indianapolis 500. There’s very few one-off drivers with as little experience as I have, who would have any realistic chance of winning this race.”
She’ll start the 101st Indy 500 from the 28th position.
Mann has no illusions about how some people view her presence at the Indy 500. She knows fans’ opinions of her are exceptionally polarized.
When she has a good race, she’s handed most of the credit any other driver receives. But a bad day invites abundant criticism, although she said everyone is quick to note it’s not because she’s a woman – “it’s just because they don’t like you or you can’t drive.”
She stays grounded in the truth, which is somewhere in the middle of the praise and hate. It only really matters what her team owner and engineer think of her performance, she said.
Still wanting the best finish possible, Mann added her general presence as the only woman is important for representation so female racing fans of all ages know there’s someone on the track with whom they can identify.
“I’m aware that it’s a pink car, but to be honest, the other drivers don’t care, my team (doesn’t) care,” Mann said.
“What is cool about the pink car and about being a female in this race is it gives little girls someone to cheer for. So I wish there was more than just one of me, but I’m really glad there is at least me out there, and hopefully, we can get this car up front. It’s not only the car that breast cancer patient survivors are cheering for but also (the one) those little girls are cheering for too.”