Note:INDYCAR.com is celebrating Women’s History Month with a series of content throughout March.
The latest person to join the ownership ranks of an NTT INDYCAR SERIES team doesn’t see herself as a motorsports pioneer but rather someone like she remembers watching for as a young fan.
That is, a female in a high-profile role in the sport.
“I love to see (women leaders), and I hope to see it continue,” Julia Steinbrenner said after being introduced as a co-owner of Steinbrenner Racing, which is part of rookie Devlin DeFrancesco’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES program at Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport. “I would love to see more of it.”
Steinbrenner, who joins her brother, George IV, as a co-owner of Steinbrenner Racing, grew up watching not only the family’s New York Yankees but also the INDYCAR SERIES. She has enjoyed seeing drivers such as Simona De Silvestro, Danica Patrick, Pippa Mann and other women compete in the series, and she admires what Beth Paretta accomplished last year with Paretta Autosport earning a starting position in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge with a crew comprised mostly of women.
INDYCAR has women in virtually every corner of its paddock – track executives, race engineers and crew members, among them – but as Women’s History Month is celebrated this month, Steinbrenner said all sports benefit from having more women in key positions.
“It’s awesome for the little girls at home like I was watching INDYCAR my whole life,” she said. “To see not only things like this where female ownership (happens), but female drivers and female engineers and pit crew (members) and all these different moving parts … is just awesome.”
Steinbrenner went on to say it’s important for “people from all creeds and colors, all across the map” to be included in leadership positions.
“I think that’s what is so cool about what’s happening in sports,” she said. “Just having the accessibility and the availability to even have the opportunity for these jobs and positions because there are so many wonderful and qualified people and so many wonderful and qualified women.
“I think that it should matter much more what your qualifications are and what you can bring to the table.”
Like her brother, who sought his sister’s help with Steinbrenner Racing as he moves into a larger role with the Yankees, Steinbrenner already has an impressive and varied resume. A graduate of the University of Tampa, she has spent seven years with the New York Yankees Tampa Foundation – she is now co-president with her aunt – and is two years into serving as the executive director of her brother’s George4 Foundation.
Steinbrenner said her interest in motorsports and her brother’s expanding responsibilities made for this natural transition.
“It kind of was more a matter of not necessarily if it would happen but when it would happen and how we would (structure) it and just kind of letting it happen organically,” she said. “The day finally came and yeah, I could not be more excited.”
Colton Herta, a longtime friend of the Steinbrenners who reached the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in part because of their support, said Julia Steinbrenner will be a benefit to this motorsports program.
“Julia’s got a really good head on her shoulders like all of the family (members),” Herta told the Palm Beach Post. “They are all smart and very well-educated. Anything they touch usually turns to gold because of how smart they are.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in her that even though (the business side of INDYCAR) is something completely new, this won’t take long for her to understand and do well in.”
Steinbrenner figures to be heavily involved in the motorsports program her brother began five years ago in supporting Herta’s move to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires. She was on hand for last week’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ season-opening race, to support not only DeFrancesco but everything involved with the No. 29 PowerTap Honda.
Steinbrenner met with partners, attended to sponsor needs and spent more than her share of time on pit road as any fan of the sport would. In short, she was immersed as she tries to learn the business side of INDYCAR and expand her base.
“I will be at almost all, if not all, of the races and be the more hands-on (part of Steinbrenner Racing),” she said. “I really love and gravitate toward working with sponsors and kind of being a facilitator and working on (business-to-business relationships) and being at the track and getting to know people.
“But I’m also very, very excited (to learn) the strategy side of (racing) and working closely with Dev and his engineers and maybe squeezing my way through the pit stand a time or two -- putting on those headphones and bugging Dev while he’s zooming around the track.”
She laughed at the thought of that.
“You know, I don’t really want to limit myself to having one specific (area of the business),” she said. “I think that it will be all-encompassing, and I’m excited to learn as a go. But I’m very confident at what I can bring to the table this year.”