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Purdue School of Engineering and Technology

Purdue School of Engineering and Technology

Purdue Grand Prix race featured first all-women's team for IUPUI

April 28, 2014

Members of the first all-female team that raced in the Purdue Grand Prix for IUPUI include, from left to right, Nicole Stout, Nikky Saxon, driver Allison Schoch, Alison Egli, Lindsey Ewing, Maddie Dement and Alyssa Setnar.

Members of the first all-female team that raced in the Purdue Grand Prix for IUPUI include, from left to right, Nicole Stout, Nikky Saxon, driver Allison Schoch, Alison Egli, Lindsey Ewing, Maddie Dement and Alyssa Setnar.

The annual Purdue Grand Prix was held on Saturday, April 26th on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, IN. IUPUI was represented by 4 teams.

Freshman Allison Schoch of Lawrenceburg was the women’s team driver, and had six other women on her side from the IUPUI Motorsports Engineering program.

The veteran driver from IUPUI is from the independent team, Wisconsin native James French, a junior who finished second in last year’s race in the 33-team field. The other IUPUI drivers include sophomore Matt Mote and sophomore James Schnabel.

The IUPUI drivers had big shoes to fill. The campus has won the race four of the last six years, all since the Motorsports Engineering program was launched in 2008. IUPUI victors include Jon Laski (2008), Justin Penix (2010 and 2011) and Blake Deister (2012).

The notion of an all-women’s team grew out of a conversation between former Purdue Grand Prix driver Lynsey Tilton Liguori and Terri Talbert-Hatch, the assistant dean of student services in the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology.

“On the drive back from last year’s race, Lynsey said we needed to have an all-girls team,” said Talbert-Hatch. “She and her husband Joe (like Lynsey a professional race driver and the grandson of former Indianapolis 500 driver Ralph Liguori) were willing to donate a go-kart and provide engines for us to use.”

They also provided working space at their Lebanon home for the team to prepare for qualifications (April 19) and race day. The room to work on the car was nice, but Talbert-Hatch chuckled when she said she believed “the team really didn’t want to have the men’s teams looking over their shoulders and telling them what to do.”

The Motorsports program has been a unifying force through the years for IUPUI’s Grand Prix participants, but “this is really a student-led deal,” Talbert-Hatch said. “It’s built a sense of pride and camaraderie for our students, but it takes a LOT of work.”

It can pay off, though. Laski and Penix, for example, now work for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing on the IndyCar circuit.

All 4 IUPUI teams joined the 27 teams that qualified the week before the race. Non-qualifiers were able to still make the race by finishing either first or second in the three sprint races that precede the Grand Prix itself.

Unfortunately, three of the IUPUI karts had mechanical issues and did not complete the race. James Schnabel finished in 6th place completing the last 30+ laps with one flat tire.

“While it was not what we hoped for, the students had a great experience.” Talbert-Hatch said. It was great to see not only the team work of each individual team but to see them helping out the other teams.”