until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


The Indy 500 winner stepping into a lead role in 2024

by Jack Benyon
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

“I was that young girl once who was watching the races on Sunday, and the only women that I saw were the ones that were on the drivers' arms.”

It seems a shame to start a feature about Angela Ashmore from a women in motorsport perspective. She’s worked in NASCAR, won the Indianapolis 500 and now stepped up to be lead engineer at arguably the best team in the IndyCar paddock, Chip Ganassi Racing.

Her gender has nothing to do with that, or her rise to the top, which would also merit praise regardless.

But at the same time, acknowledging that she is different - and championing the fact she is a successful woman in motorsport - gives Ashmore the chance to be an even more visible presence.

Her story represents an attainable goal for women who don’t see motorsport as a viable career path, or are apprehensive about getting into a male-dominated industry (understandably so).

“There's half of me that says, I just want to do my job, and be successful and have my success treated in the same way as it is for everyone else,” says Ashmore, who joins The Race IndyCar Podcast this week to discuss becoming race engineer to Marcus Armstrong, her goals for the season, and more about her journey to the top.

“But there's another part of me that says, man, there's some young girls out there that really need to see a strong female being successful.

“I was that young girl once who was watching the races on Sunday, and the only women that I saw were the ones that were on the drivers' arms.

"They were never in a technical position. They were never on the pit crew. They were never on the timing stand.

“It's come a long way since then. But it's obviously not quite progressed where it needs to yet. So I'm happy to be part of that success.

“I want to do a good job and I want young women to see that success and feel like they're a part of it and feel encouraged. And so I think a lot of that pressure I put on myself. And also I'm just extremely competitive like most other people are who do this job.

“I have a quote that I always look back on: You have to always believe that you'll be the best but never believe that you've done so. And I think about that pretty often.

“I do genuinely believe that I will be the best person that's ever done this job, but I'm not there yet. So that's what I'm always working towards. I want be the best race engineer that's ever done this job and I'm hoping that down the line sometime I can be remembered that way but we'll just get through the first season first.”

Ashmore acted as assistant engineer to Brad Goldberg on the #8 car previously driven by Marcus Ericsson, and that team won the Indy 500 in 2022 and came incredibly close to winning it again last year, too.

In that role, Ashmore focused on making sure the car ran correctly, on making sure the data coming from the car was accurate and on the fuel strategy - while supporting overall strategy calls, too.

Now, as the lead engineer on a car, a lot more of that key decision-making will fall on her shoulders, and that’s including one of the areas she believes differentiates teams in IndyCar's current formula: race strategy, something Ashmore discusses in more depth - including tyre strategies and set-up differences between teams' cars and drivers - in the podcast episode.

She has also been the lead engineer when Ganassi has been able to test the new hybrid package, which is due to arrive in the second half of the 2024 season - and no doubt the whole team will be leaning on her for the knowledge she has gleaned from that.

In joining Armstrong, Ashmore has a fascinating driver to work with. Armstrong, who was rookie of the year in 2023, came from Formula 2 to contest just the road and street circuits in his first year with Ganassi. He and incoming team-mates Linus Lundqvist and Kyffin Simpson have a lot to live up to alongside Alex Palou and Scott Dixon, both multiple-time champions and the top two in the standings last year.

As well as qualifying, where Ashmore acknowledges Armstrong struggled last year, the goal is to aim to be in the top eight at every race.

“One of the things that we spoke about is that if you just finished eighth [every time], which is not really a particularly great finish, where do you think that you'd finish in the championship? Top five, for sure,” Ashmore adds.

“If we finished inside the top five of the championship, that would be an excellent year for him.

“Obviously, we want to go out and win races, that's our goal.

"But being realistic about it, if we can be consistent, try and be top six or better in every race, those are realistic, great goals. And I think that's going to get us to the goal at the end of the season, which is to put ourselves in a position for a championship.”

It’s very clear from the interview that Ashmore is motivated to make the step up to lead engineer a success, and she has plenty of belief in Armstrong that he can play his part.

The fact of the matter is, Ashmore’s been brought up in a team that just expects to win, and she has well and truly adopted that mindset.

Her journey and that of the #11 car this year is going to be exciting to watch.

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