Melissa McCarthy

The Crown Royal Wall of Gratitude salutes this nation’s heroes and all essential workers, past and present, who have served America. Crown Royal and The American Legion identified five new honorees who were added to the Wall of Gratitude inside of Gate 2 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 18 during PPG presents Armed Forces Qualifying weekend.

One of those inductees was Dr. Melissa McCarthy, a physician with the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team.

McCarthy is a 1992 West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran, serving from 1992 to 1997. She has a unique path to becoming a crucial member of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

McCarthy is one of eight children. With that many kids in one household, she sought an opportunity to help pay for college.

“I was applying for scholarships pretty much everywhere,” she said. “I was fortunate to get a congressional appointment to West Point.”

After schooling at West Point, she went to the officer’s basic course in Georgia and then was stationed in Germany for about four years. Following that, she was stationed in an Airborne unit at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

When her service concluded, she worked alongside the military as a government contractor for more than a decade. Then an opportunity arose to change course and attend medical school, something that long interested her. With an opportunity to rekindle a flame, she leaped at the venture.

“I started just doing prerequisites and that type of thing,” she said. “One thing led to another. I was able to get a scholarship to medical school.”

That decision led her to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

Indiana University has a unique program called the Motorsports Medicine Fellowship. That program is the only one in the country that specifically has a post-graduate training program for physicians – primarily emergency medicine physicians – to have a role in motorsports. INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Julia Vaizer was the first graduate of the Motorsports Medicine Fellowship.

McCarthy completed the fellowship in June 2022. Twenty-three months later, she’s enjoying the parallels between her current job and past profession.

“I think this is the closest I've felt to being in a military unit since leaving the military,” she said of her role in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. “Just the camaraderie, the teamwork, we thrive or survive together. I can't imagine ever leaving.”

Last weekend’s designation during PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying at IMS means so much to her and her family. The McCarthy’s are massive Indianapolis 500 race fans with Melissa attending her first “500” at age 11.

“I’ve been to almost every one since, except for a few when I was out of the country,” she said. “It’s a big thing for my family. It’s sort of our annual pilgrimage/family reunion to go to the Indy 500 every year.

“We didn’t really take family vacations except to come to the Indy 500. And now as we’re older, it’s kind of like our family reunion.

“This week, all seven of my siblings and their wives and their kids will be here. The most important part for us is spending the whole weekend together.”

McCarthy expects to shed a tear on Race Day as she’s working. This race, this place and having a military background brings a culmination of emotions to her. The way the drivers feel driving through that tunnel into IMS – that speeds through her veins, too.

She likes to drive through the gates by herself. That’s her favorite part. Now, every time she exits the tunnel at Gate 2, she can see the wall where her name will forever live at the mecca of motorsports.