Feb. 25 (UPI) — Tatiana Calderon, the lone female IndyCar Series driver at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Fla., is aiming to make history at the event this weekend.
IndyCar and the St. Petersburg Grand Prix have a history of female drivers, but not in recent years. The last woman to compete in IndyCar’s St. Petersburg race came in 2015, when Simona de Silvestro finished 18th.
Calderon acknowledged that yearslong gap and said she hopes to “open more doors” for the “next generation.”
“I understand the last couple of years that I’m not only racing for myself anymore,” Calderon told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday. “I’m racing for the next generation, and I hope that I can open more doors for them.”
Calderon will be the seventh female IndyCar driver to compete in the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, joining Danica Patrick (2005-11), Sarah Fisher (2007), Milka Duno (2010), de Silvestro (2010-12, 2015), Ana Beatriz (2011, 2013) and Katherine Legge (2012).
De Silvestro’s fourth-place finish in 2011 is the highest ever by a female in the race. Patrick had a sixth-place run in 2006.
The 28-year-old Calderon, a native of Colombia, received the opportunity to compete in the event thanks in part to sponsor ROKiT, which sponsored her while she raced in Japan and also partners with A.J. Foyt Racing.
Calderon will compete on the IndyCar Series’ road and street courses, making her the first female driver to have a regular IndyCar seat since de Silvestro in 2013.
A field of 26 cars will take the green flag Sunday as the St. Petersburg Grand Prix opens the season for the first time. Colton Herta is the defending race winner.