‘Speedway sorority’: Drivers’ wives provide vital support system, stoke competition

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INDIANAPOLIS (May 22, 2015) - In the fast-paced boys’ club of IndyCar, a strong band of women supports the drivers and one another from the passenger seat.

“It’s a very special bond because you don’t have to say anything, we just understand,” said Kathleen Kimball, wife of driver Charlie Kimball.

“As much as you can try to explain to people how you feel on race day, it's hard to really recreate that unless your husband or boyfriend is out there,” echoed Emma Davies-Dixon, whose husband Scott is on the pole for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

Think of it as a Speedway sorority, an oval forming a circle of friendships.

“We travel every week together. They’re our family on the road,” said Heather Carpenter, wife of 2013 and 2014 Indy500 pole sitter, Ed. “So although there’s that competitive nature, we still know how much we all need each other and appreciate each other.”

When Emma and Kathleen each made moves to Indy to join their husbands, Indiana native Heather was among those welcoming them with open arms.

“I’m the Indiana girl, so it's kinda fun for me, meeting all these people and everyone coming in and showing them how much we love Indiana and all that there is to do here,” Heather said.

“She just literally welcomes everyone in, and I always say when a new girl comes that way as well, the way I was welcomed, I am hoping that I’ll do the same back to them,” Emma added.

“It's been wonderful for me,” Kathleen said, “as a transplant from California to Indy to have the wives and girlfriends of IndyCar here.”

These women have established a camaraderie and support system that transcends the track, but when it comes to race day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, there’s no doubt that an extra level of competitiveness kicks in.

“It’s a hard dynamic,” Emma said, “like we really care for each other but we also have that competitiveness, so race day some girls like to keep to themselves, you know, because it's hard to differentiate that, but some of the friendships are really close, as much as the boys are competing, I can’t help but say ‘good luck!’ or give a high five.”

“Emma’s maybe a little more competitive than others,” Kathleen quipped, with a laugh.

“Don’t look at her Twitter feed,” Heather joked.

To which Emma responded, “I’m a passionate Welsh girl! I get into so much trouble.”

As much as the race breeds that competitive nature, the women are quick to share the thrill of victory.

“As much as I would love Scott to win again, I would love the thought of these two girls winning it because to taste that, it's such the most amazing feeling in the world…there’s nothing like it,” Emma said. “Winning the 500 changed Scott’s life, it really did… I would love for them to feel that, it would change their lives.”

Kathleen echoed the importance of the Indy 500.

“There is just something about this race, it's not just one thing, it's everything.”

Hometown girl Heather couldn’t stress enough the significance of crossing the yard of bricks in first.

“It’s the biggest race in the world, it's everything. It makes you.”