Lyn St. James’ Scholarship Program Jump Starts Careers Danica Patrick made international headlines last month when she became the first woman to win an IndyCar race. Her victory is a celebration for many aspiring young women drivers who look at Patrick’s big win as inspiration for their own opportunities within the sport of motor racing.
For 18 young women drivers nationwide, and one from Germany, Lyn St. James’ Project Podium offers optimism that their hard work, perseverance and driving talents will grow and be recognized. Project Podium is a new grant program that provides matching funds to drivers who have generated sponsorships.
For St. James, Project Podium is a natural extension of the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation and Driver Development Program, of which Patrick is a graduate.
“There are many more women in the driver pipeline than ever before,” St. James said. “Project Podium is designed to help young talent achieve racing and business success, but not by giving them a handout. Each applicant must demonstrate her commitment, desire and need, both in the business world and on the track.”
Project Podium applicants submitted their driving qualifications, sponsor information and a written essay on their goals and plans and why they need support. They are:
Renee Dupuis (Glastonbury, Conn.) – NASCAR Whelen Modified Series
Kaley Engstrom (Rhome, Texas) – Brazo Mini Sprint Assoc.
Natalie Fernaroli (Raymore, Mo.) - TAG USA KART
Diana Harker (Gainesville, Ga.) – NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster
Kate Harker (Gainesville, Ga.) – NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster
Sloan Henderson (Franklin, Ohio) – INEX Legends
Brandie Jass (Bryan, Texas) – Brazos Mini Sprint Assoc.
Kristy Knoll (Amherst, N.Y.) – WKA Jr. Restricted Dirt Karts
Samantha Neild (Jensen Beach, Fla.) – NHRA Altered Dragster
Ashley Parlett (Harrisburg, N.C.) – 260 Sprint Cars
Leah Pruett-LeDuc (Cherry Valley, Calif.) – NHRA Funny Car / Super Comp
Megan Reitenour (Miamisburg, Ohio) - SuperCupStockCarSeries / ARCA Truck Series
Kayla Sewell (Henderson, Nev.) - NHRA Sportsman
Trista Stevenson (Pocahontas, Ill.) – NASCAR Late Model
Samantha Taylor (Bonney Lake, Wash.) – USAC / QMA / IKF / ASCS
Miranda Throckmorton (Coatesville, Ind.) – Allstar & Midwest Circuit of Champions
Lynsey Tilton (Martinsville, Ind.) – USAC Midgets / Mini sprints
Jackie Weiss (Hessen, Germany) – Karts / Formula BMW
A total of $55,000 in scholarships is available from Project Podium. Each applicant is being reviewed by a volunteer panel of motorsports and business professionals. Recipients will be announced late-May.
In addition to St. James, the reviewing committee consists of: Vicki O’Connor, managing director of the Atlantic Championship; Linda Conti, financial advisor at David A. Noyes & Co.; Amy Rosewater, sports writer; Angelique Chengelis, The Detroit News motorsports writer; and Erin Crocker, NASCAR driver & Women in the Winner’s Circle Driver Development Program graduate.
Current Project Podium partners are: Newman’s Own, Grand-Am, NASCAR Foundation, NHRA, Indy Racing League/Firestone Indy Lights, Atlantic Championship, NHRA, Mazda USA, Toyota, VW, Rolex, and Mike Helton.