ABC News(INDIANAPOLIS) -- The Indianapolis 500, one of the most watched races in the world, has long been a male-dominated competition with cars flying around the track at breakneck speeds and pit crews taking mere seconds to change tires.
But women are now blazing trails in this world of high-testosterone racing, from the driver’s seat to pit crew.
Just last week, driver Katherine Legge announced she was teaming up with motorsports executive Beth Paretta to form Grace Autosport, the first all-female IndyCar Series racing team, with the goal to compete in the 2016 Indy 500.
This year, two women, out of 33 drivers, have qualified to race in 99th Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday: Switzerland’s Simona de Silvestro and England’s Pippa Mann.
Only nine woman have ever raced in the Indy 500, starting with Janet Guthrie, a driver in the late 1970s. Another was 34-year-old Sarah Fisher, who now owns an Indy team. She had the distinction of losing two cars in separate spectacular crashes during qualifying heats this week, both worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“That was maybe a $450,000 loss,” Fisher told ABC News after the first car hit the wall, spun and turned a looping backflip.
Whereas nine women have raced the track, only two have worked elbow deep in grease and car carcass in the pit crew. The adrenaline-pounding work of pit crew is arguably one of the more dangerous roles in sports. It’s a job, Fisher said, in which every millisecond matters.
“Those people over the wall train to be in that position,” she said. “Whether it’s a female or a male, as a race car driver you train to be in that position. When you’re over the wall, you sign off on that opportunity, and it’s the same regardless of who you are.”
Indy veteran Anna Chatten has been a mechanic for nearly 20 years and was the first woman ever go over the wall and work pit crew during an Indy 500 race.
When she first started, Chatten said guys would come up to her and ask her what she was doing on the track, but “now everyone knows me on pit lane,” she said. Chatten’s fellow mechanics have come to accept her as one of their own, she said, but spectators are still caught by surprise.
“Lots of people make the mistake that I might be PR [public relations] and not a mechanic,” she said. “This guy rolls up just as were about to roll the car out, so a bust time, not the best time to talk. But I’m accommodating. ... So the guy asks me, ‘Who is that guy in the paisley hat?’ Now there’s 20 people wearing paisley hats this month, so I say, 'Which guy?' And he got very offended and said I am not a very good PR person. And I said, ‘Great, because I’m not the PR person.”
Chatten is responsible for setting up the gearbox, the souped-up manual transmission in race cars, every time a car runs. It’s a piece of machinery with more than 600 combinations.
“If you get one little piece not in the right spot, it's game over,” she said. “Because all of this stuff works together, one little piece in the wrong spot and it's game over.”
And although she is wearing the same safety gear that all pit crew members wear, the job can be extremely risky.
“I did get hurt once and busted my foot up,” Chatten said. “We had a driver that came in and wasn’t good at making his marks. You have half a second to decide if he was going to make his mark, and the pit wall was really high and I didn’t have enough time to get over the wall. So it hit my foot and broke my foot.”
The second woman ever to work pit crew during the Indy 500 is Jessica Mace, a 27-year-old mechanic from Bellville, Ohio. She’ll be changing tires for racer Conor Daly in the Indy 500. Mace and her team can change a tire on the track in about three seconds -- in a ritual so practiced it seems they are on fast forward.
“Changing tires is one of the most physical things you can do,” Mace said.
Although she wears a fire suit and a helmet like her fellow male pit crew members, Mace said she is still treated differently, sometimes, in the heat of the moment.
“[The drivers] will ask the guys to do something and I will just get left out and, if you want to do that, that’s fine with me, I will work harder,” Mace said. “You deal with it and keep moving forward because you are not going to change their minds. You just have to work through it.”
Mace said she grew up watching racing and that her grandfather raced cars for 40 years. She doesn’t see driving in her future, but said men are starting to become more accepting of women on the track.
“We are here to work with you," she said. "So you can fight us and your car won’t perform well, or you can deal with us and we can work together."
Scott Clarke / ESPN Images(MONTREAL) -- After a short stint in the NFL, defensive end Michael Sam is crossing the border and joining the Montreal Alouettes.
The Canadian Football League team announced on Friday that they have signed Sam to a two-year deal.
“With the signing of Michael Sam, we have become a better organization today,” Jim Popp, the general manager of the Alouettes, said in a statement. “Not only have we added an outstanding football player, we have added even a better person that brings dignity, character, and heart to our team.”
Sam made headlines last year for being the first openly gay man drafted in the NFL. He was picked up by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2014 draft and was cut from the team before the start of the regular season. He then joined the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad but was released on Oct. 21.
Sam, who has been a free agent since, said he is "very excited and proud" to join the Alouettes.
"I cannot wait to put on the pads, get back on the field and work hard each and every day with my teammates to bring a Grey Cup to the great fans here in Montreal," he said in a statement.
Purestock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup will kick off on June 6 and runs through July 5. The tournament -- the largest single sporting event for women on the planet -- will be played in six host cities across Canada.
The United States, a two-time World Cup champion and one of the favorites to win this year's tournament, will play its first game on June 8 against Australia. The USA will also face Sweden on June 12 and Nigeria on June 16. The U.S. previously won the World Cup in 1991 and 1999.
The final will take place July 5 in Vancouver.
Here is the complete schedule:
June 6 Canada vs. China New Zealand vs. Netherlands
June 11 China vs. Netherlands Canada vs. New Zealand
June 15 Netherlands vs. Canada China vs. New Zealand
June 7 Norway vs. Thailand Germany vs. Ivory Coast
June 11 Germany vs. Norway Ivory Coast vs. Thailand
June 15 Thailand vs. Germany Ivory Coast vs. Norway
June 8 Cameroon vs. Ecuador Japan vs. Switzerland
June 12 Switzerland vs. Ecuador Japan vs. Cameroon
June 16 Ecuador vs. Japan Switzerland vs. Cameroon
June 8 Sweden vs. Nigeria USA vs. Australia
June 12 Australia vs. Nigeria USA vs. Sweden
June 16 USA vs. Nigeria Australia vs. Sweden
June 9 Spain vs. Costa Rica Brazil vs. South Korea
June 13 Brazil vs. Spain South Korea vs. Costa Rica
June 17 Costa Rica vs. Brazil South Korea vs. Spain
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — AMERICAN LEAGUE Baltimore 5, Seattle 4 Detroit 6, Houston 5, 11 Innings Toronto 8, L.A. Angels 4 Tampa Bay 3, Oakland 0 Texas 3, Boston 1 Cleveland 5, Chi White Sox 2 NATIONAL LEAGUE Arizona 7, Miami 6 N-Y Mets 5, St. Louis 0 Colorado 7, Philadelphia 3 San Francisco 4, L.A. Dodgers 0 Atlanta 10, Milwaukee 1 Chi Cubs 3, San Diego 0 NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION PLAYOFFS Golden State 99, Houston 98 NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE PLAYOFFS Anaheim 2, Chicago 1
Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- The defensive tackle of the Buffalo Bills, Marcell Dareus, has been suspended for the first game of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Dareus' suspension comes from a May 2014 arrest after a traffic stop in Alabama, where he was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, and later entered a pretrial intervention program that allows the charges to be dropped, ESPN reports.
Dareus' attorney, Rod Giddens, told ESPN on Thursday that Dareus is still on track to complete the intervention program and hasn't faced any setbacks in the process.
"Last year, I made a mistake involving possession of a banned substance," Dareus said in a statement obtained by ESPN. "The NFL's discipline for this conduct is part of the drug policy, and I apologize to my family, my teammates, the entire Bills organization and Bills fans that I will miss one game as a result of my mistake. I will work intensely that week and will be extremely happy to contribute to a win in week two for the Bills."
This will be the second consecutive season that a Bills defensive starter will miss the opener for disciplinary reasons.
Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images(RICHMOND, Texas) -- Denver Broncos defensive end Antonio Smith is currently under investigation in Texas over an allegation described by a local sheriff as “sexual in nature.”
The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office confirmed on Thursday an investigation into Smith over alleged child abuse allegations.
Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls said a complaint was made against Smith in November and it was "sexual in nature."
"Last night, we became aware for the first time of an allegation involving Antonio Smith," the Broncos said in a statement. "We are now in the process of gathering more information."
Smith has not been arrested, and no charges have been filed.
The 33-year-old defensive end signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Broncos in April. Smith started 16 games last year for the Oakland Raiders, but was released this spring.
Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images(BOSTON) -- Former NFL standout Aaron Hernandez is commemorating his life sentence with a new neck tattoo that reads “Lifetime” and another on his hand that prison officials confirmed is gang-related.
Hernandez, 25, who is serving a life sentence after he was convicted in the 2013 killing of his friend Odin Lloyd last month, faced a judge again Thursday in connection with a separate double slaying he is accused of committing in July 2012.
Hernandez is accused of intimidating a witness to that drive-by execution-style slaying.
During his Boston court appearance on Thursday, Hernandez was photographed with the new ink, which several sources said was one of two tattoos he got from jailhouse artists at MCI-Shirley’s Souza Baranowski Correction Center. The tattoos were spotted after a “two-on-one fight” involving Hernandez that the sources called gang related.
The fight landed Hernandez in a segregated cell at the prison’s Special Management Unit, authorities said.
Hernandez was arraigned Thursday on witness intimidation charges connected to the allegation that he shot a former bodyguard, Alexander Bradley, in the head after a night out in Florida and rolled him out of a moving car in an industrial park.
Bradley later told a grand jury that Hernandez shot him to keep him quiet about the July 2012 shooting, sparked when the then Patriots tight end was angry about a spilled drink on the dance floor at a Boston nightclub and he retaliated by waiting for the men to leave the club. He then ambushed them at a red light and opened fire, Suffolk County prosecutors said.