Jeff Prouty

Beth Paretta and the Indy 500

by Jeff Prouty

*Article also appears in The 2022 Q4 Prouty Pulse.
Beth Paretta is the founder, owner, and team principal of Paretta Autosport—the first woman-owned, woman-driven, and woman-forward team in INDYCAR history. Born out of Beth’s vision and determination, Paretta Autosport launched in 2021 at the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”—the famed Indianapolis 500.
I had the chance to catch-up with Beth at this year’s Indy 500 and learn a bit more about the race and her team.

Jeff: How was Indy 500 2022 different for you versus Indy 500 2021?

Beth: In 2022, I was able to watch the race as a spectator with our driver, Simona De Silvestro, and I think we were able to appreciate our achievement of 2021 in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. I’m grateful we were able to have that perspective, and we look forward to being back in the race next year, if we can!

Jeff: Typically, how many racers try to qualify for the Indy 500?

Beth: It depends on the year. Back in the 1960s you could have 50+ cars try to qualify. In the modern era we will get about 33-38 cars attempting to make the field of 33. In 2022, like in 2016, there were only 33 cars making the attempt, so they all “made it” and were guaranteed to compete.
The Indy 500 is unique in racing and from the rest of the INDYCAR schedule in that you are not guaranteed to be in the race or “make the field.” Since it is capped at 33, if there are more entrants than that, the pressure is on to be among the fastest 33 cars on qualifying weekend. It’s like the Boston Marathon in that way—you must qualify. You can’t just show up.

Jeff: What kind of dollars do you need to raise annually to fund the team?

Beth: Full season operating costs are about $9 million for one car. The Indy 500 alone can cost about $1.1 million as part of that overall budget. This doesn’t include the acquisition of assets; to start a team you would need an additional $3 million or so. In comparison, F1 can cost upwards of $400-$500 million.

Jeff: What’s your vision for the ideal team?

Beth: Good people, making a difference, winning races and championships, and the Indy 500.


Jeff: Woman President, woman on the moon, woman Indy 500 winner—which will happen first and why?

Beth: It should be President as that’s the most important and impactful of the three. Most other leading countries have had women as leaders, and they have faired well. I’m sure there is a woman out there who would do a fantastic job! I wish more would throw their hats in the ring so we could meet them.

Jeff: Biggest challenges you face in chasing your big and exciting goal?

Beth: Raising sponsor dollars. Racing is dependent on sponsor partners to cover the operating costs. Other sports have the benefit of having an arena or stadium that generates revenue for the team. Sponsor deals are part of the equation, but there are other revenue streams, so they aren’t solely dependent on finding and keeping sponsors. In racing, we don’t have a home venue per se, but our entire league travels from event to event. The upside is that our audience is focused and not fractured, so sponsors can reach the entire fanbase and build campaigns that add value. There are also real business to business opportunities which keep many sponsors in the sport.

Jeff: How can our readers help you and Simona in chasing the dream?

Beth: Consider becoming a partner or making introductions to companies that could benefit from a strategic, well-executed sponsorship campaign. Unlike many team owners in racing, I have a background in finance, operations, and marketing, and work directly with partners to craft their marketing strategy, activation plan, PR and social media messaging. Our commercial team can help create bespoke programs to deliver the varied ROI that a company needs.

Jeff: What have you learned from working with Roger Penske (and other team owners) over the years?

Beth: Roger has such a robust portfolio of businesses that he often works with entities that are direct competitors of each other, or of his. By working hard and keeping your word, you earn their respect and can call on them when you need to get things done. I met Roger in 2007 while I was working for Aston Martin, and he owned a dealership in my region. Then, when I was the motorsport director at Fiat Chrysler, I oversaw the NASCAR program with Dodge, and he was our partner team (we won the championship together in 2012). It is a small world.

Jeff: Biggest surprise/aha for you in the 2022 Indy 500?

Beth: That Simona was surprised by how fast the cars go as they flew by us while sitting in the suites above pit lane (Ha! 225+ mph).

Jeff: Any other words of wisdom/words of humor you want to share with our 15,000 readers?

Beth: Racing is a sport for geeks. It is not cars going in circles. A race team is a team of engineers and mechanics trying to build a better mousetrap, and trying to solve the puzzle combination on any given day.
It is fast and sometimes dangerous, but it takes commitment from the best and brightest who work long hours to figure out how to be fastest.
It is track operators and series officials, and journalists and photographers working together to present an entertaining, enjoyable show for fans. It is commercial teams building business cases to keep the wheels turning so that partners win off track while we are running on track. Racing brings kids and adults, some lifelong fans, together to bicker and argue and “bench race” about who’s the best and the worst. Racing is for everyone: in the stands, behind the wheel, and in pit lane. Racing is a family, and all are welcome.



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