Pippa Mann Eagerly Awaits The Indianapolis 500

Pippa Mann is ready to roll at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Russ Lake Photo]

Pippa Mann is ready to roll at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  [Russ Lake Photo]

Indianapolis, Ind. – To race in the Indianapolis 500 is a dream come true for race drivers around the world, and Pippa Mann is one of the fortunate ones to have realized that dream on three occasions. And she can’t wait to do it again a few days from now.

For the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500, Mann has once again teamed with Dale Coyne Racing and will be driving the team’s Susan G. Komen Honda entry. Inactive since the 2014 500, Mann knocked off the rust a week ago during a day-long test at the Speedway and she fared well timing 16th fastest of 28 cars on the track.

“Pippa is great to have on our team,” Dale Coyne said. “We’ve had her for a couple of years, and we have enjoyed it. She’s serious about it and to show up here once a year is not easy to do. Wouldn’t it be something if a woman won this race?”

“It is so great to be back in a race car and it was great to be out and participate in the aero-kit test on Sunday,” Mann said with a huge grin on her face. “For me personally, it is a race car that I get to drive and that makes me pretty happy. I think there was some rust that needed to be knocked off for the first few laps, but by the end of the day, I felt very comfortable in the car. With a few more laps, I should feel more comfortable come race day.”

While the aero kits are new for 2015, they are to be used for the first time at Indianapolis and it is expected drivers and teams will need time to adjust. However, Mann thought she made the transition without difficulty. “The difference wasn’t that great,” said the articulate driver. “It was a hot day, which was really good for us as a team as that’s where we thought we needed to do the most work to improve upon last year.

“The track was so green it was hard to tell the differences between the cars, but the cars did move around a little bit more. We did have a little bit more push with the car in clean air, but we worked hard to tidy it up. With the aero kit, I think the cars will be racey and put on a great show for the fans on race day.”

Mann will also benefit from having a pair of skilled teammates – Carlos Huertas and James Davison.   “It is going to be of massive help, sharing data and having extra input available,” she stated.

Even though Mann hasn’t raced in a year, she has been around racing on a regular basis as she has never lost contact with Dale Coyne Racing. “At no point in my 11 months off was I without a race team and that’s a big difference between me and many other drivers, who are trying to put deals together,” she commented. “To have these guys behind me and making me part of the team year-around makes a big difference.”

Also, she stayed active doing analysis work for the IndyCar radio broadcasts where her insights added substance to the commentary.

In addition, Mann, 31, is a fitness buff and she works out regularly, doing a combination of exercises to stay in tip-top shape.

Mann fully realizes that one test is only a warm-up of sorts, and she recognizes there are many hoops to jump through before the race, to include hours of practice, endless sessions with her engineers followed by the all-important qualifications a week from now.

A year ago, she qualified 24th, which was her personal best to date, and she dearly wants to improve upon that starting spot. “Our goal and hope is to top that mark, to go better in qualifying,” she said.

Her best finish in the 500 has been 20th and her goal is to do better. “Yes, I have goals but when you come here, you have to realize this place kind of chooses for you, so we want to do our part and hope that Indy does the rest,” Mann states. “Every driver dreams about winning at this place, and I am one of the drivers with that item on my bucket list. With a race victory there are so many things that must go your way. If you get everything right one year and make the right decisions, it is attainable one year, but not this year. It is out there like something that is attainable — something you can get latch onto and get after.”

Mann’s No. 63 car is painted pink and her enthusiasm about her partnership with the Susan G. Komen Foundation couldn’t be contained as she described the fund-raising efforts underway. Her web site explains it all, including the ability of fans, supporters, benefactors and media to follow the driver and the fund-raising activities as the month of May progresses. Donors to the cause will be eligible for perks, including Komen wristbands and koozies, special T-shirts, caps donated by Honda and Firestone, garage tours, a Race with Pippa night at Fastimes Karting and other possibilities.

With Mann’s enthusiasm, attitude, determination and positive outlook, she should perform admirably not only this year but for many years to come, and one day her dream of driving into victory lane may be realized.



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