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NASCAR Tech Grads Join Female-Forward IndyCar Pit Crew

May 18, 2021 ·
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When Madison Conrad and Caitlyn Brown graduated from NASCAR Technical Institute, they knew they would help blaze a trail for women in motorsports, but they had no idea that one day they would make history.

At the upcoming Indianapolis 500, one of the most prestigious motor sports events in the world, Madison and Caitlyn will be joining Paretta Autosport, the first majority female team in the NTT IndyCar Series. They’re two of six pit crew members who will work on the No. 16 Chevrolet driven by racer Simona de Silvestro.

The team is heading to Indianapolis Motor Speedway to qualify for one of the coveted spots to compete in the race on May 30. Keep reading to learn all about Madison and Caitlyn’s stories and get a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to train for the Indy 500.

Getting Started in the Industry

Both Madison and Caitlyn developed a passion for motorsports at a young age.

Madison’s dad and grandfather used to race, and she took an auto class while in high school — which is where she learned about NASCAR Tech. Caitlyn’s family also raced, and when a friend told her about the school, she knew it was where she needed to be.

Since graduating, Madison and Caitlyn have both found incredible success in their careers. Madison interned at Roush Yates Engines while she was at NASCAR Tech and has been working there full-time for the past five years. She’s worked in several different roles, from being in the teardown department, to marketing, to becoming a powertrain reliability specialist — which is what she does today.

“My education from NASCAR Tech definitely gave me a perfect foundation,” Madison shares.

Caitlyn landed a job as a mechanic with Team Penske after graduation and has worked there ever since. She always envisioned herself working for a Ford team, so landing a job with the biggest Ford team in NASCAR has been a dream come true.

“It was one of my far-fetched dreams, so to achieve it has been incredible,” she shares. “Working on IndyCars for Roger Penske is something not everyone gets to say they can do.”

Joining the Paretta Autosport Team

At the start of 2021, an exciting opportunity began circulating around the racing community. Motorsports executive Beth Paretta was forming Paretta Autosport, the first majority female team to compete in the Indy 500.

Madison first heard about the initiative on Twitter. Being a female in motorsports, she was instantly excited. A connection she has at Penske later brought it up to her and asked if she would be interested in joining the team.

Before she could say yes, Madison had to get approval from her team at Roush Yates, and everyone encouraged her to take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The support from her employer has been consistent with what Madison has experienced since starting in the industry. Doug Yates and the entire team at Roush Yates have been incredibly supportive of Madison and women in the industry in general. In fact, Madison was the first female to work in teardown!

Caitlyn first heard about Paretta Autosport through an email she received at work. Being one of the only females on the floor at Team Penske, she was recommended to the pit coach, and soon afterward found herself at orientation.

Both Madison’s and Caitlyn’s education and prior work experience gave them a great foundation for joining the team. In the IndyCar world, the pit crew also works on the car, so their mechanical background gave them a leg up.

Practice Makes Perfect

Once the Paretta team was established in mid-February, it started training and hasn’t looked back. The commitment of this team is real: It meets at Team Penske to practice every Monday through Thursday at 4:30 a.m.!

As you might imagine, these practices are jam-packed. The team starts by doing static stops without the car moving to get warmed up, and from there it goes into live pit stops with an electric car that simulates what a real pit stop is like.

Afterward, the team members head to the gym to complete a workout designed to improve their strength and reaction time, both of which are vital to the job.


When practice is complete, both Madison and Caitlyn get ready for a full day of work. As if training for the Indy 500 and working a full-time job aren’t enough, Caitlyn also works three days a week at a go-kart track outside of Mooresville, North Carolina!

Being on an IndyCar pit crew has been a new experience for Madison, Caitlyn and some of their teammates, but with the way they’ve come together, you’d think they’d been doing it for years. In the few months the team has been practicing, it has achieved its goal of a 6.5-second stop time, when it was well into the 20-second range when it first started.

Working as a Team

So what’s it like working on a female-forward team? According to both Madison and Caitlyn, the experience has been incredible.

“Working with a majority female team has been like a breath of fresh air, it’s been really great,” Madison shares. “At first, we were kind of unsure — we didn’t know each other and didn’t really know what this experience was going to be like, but we’re all really close now.”

For Caitlyn, it’s been rewarding to see team members from all walks of life come together for a common purpose. Each woman on the team brings a different perspective. They all have different experiences and career paths, which makes the team that much more powerful. In fact, one of their teammates is currently a student at NASCAR Tech!

“To be all together and working towards the same goal has been really cool,” Caitlyn shares.

It’s More Than a Race

Like any great race team, Paretta Autosport is set on winning — but its mission doesn’t stop there. This is an initiative that was created to empower women and have an impact long after race day.

What started as a small idea has become a movement that some of the biggest names in the industry are getting behind. In 2020, Roger Penske created the “Race for Equality and Change” initiative, which pushes for more diversity and inclusivity across IndyCar. So when Beth Paretta presented the idea of a female-forward team to him, he was all in.

The support of Penske has literally opened doors for the Paretta team, as it currently practices at Penske’s facility. It also led to a sponsorship from MoneyLion, a leading financial services platform. In partnership with Paretta Autosport, MoneyLion created the “Women Who Roar” campaign, which is all about empowering women in their careers and finances.

Overall, the Paretta team exists to inspire women and open their eyes to nontraditional career paths that can be exciting and rewarding, such as those in racing. Madison and Caitlyn are both great examples of where hard work, dedication and passion can take you in the industry.6

The Road to the Indy 500

Being the first of its kind, the Paretta team knows it will have extra eyes on it as it prepares for the big day. The stakes are high, but the team is ready for the challenge.

The team was scheduled to arrive at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 17, and it plans to begin putting in full days of practice starting May 18. The team will work on the car to ensure everything is perfect to help Simona get a good qualifying spot. From there, if Simona qualifies, the team will prepare to compete in the race on May 30. 

Attending the Indy 500 is a dream for many racing enthusiasts, let alone being able to compete in the race. Madison and Caitlyn are excited to put on their uniforms, see fans in the stands and take in all the excitement of the event. Stepping foot on the track is something few people get to do — it’s a moment they’ll remember forever.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to experience,” Caitlyn says. “Going there for the first time, especially as a member of the team, is going to be really incredible. Someone’s going to have to pinch me.”

Universal Technical Institute (UTI) is excited to cheer on the Paretta Autosport team at the upcoming Indianapolis 500. Be sure to tune in for the big race on May 30, and in the meantime, follow Paretta Autosport on Twitter @ParettaSport to keep up with the team’s journey!

To learn more about NASCAR Tech and how you can train for an exciting career in motor sports, visit our campus page and request information to get in touch with an Admissions Representative today.

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By submitting this form, I agree that Universal Technical Institute, Inc., Custom Training Group, Inc., and their representatives may email, call, and / or text me with marketing messages about educational programs and services, as well as for school - related communications, at any phone number I provide, including a wireless number, using prerecorded calls or automated technology. I understand that my consent is not required to apply, enroll or make any purchase.

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