Early this year, when Jackie Heinricher’s all-female team took to the track in the Roar Before the Twenty-Four, Bia Figueiredo (or you may know her by the name Ana Beatriz) captured the fastest time in the GT Class winning the team the prime pit and garage spot. As discussed (you can read the write up HERE), the team fell victim to the weather during the Rolex 24 and ultimately ended the race in thirteenth place.
As most racecar drivers, Bia started her career in Karting, she actually shares a racing coach with Tony Kanaan. Her career in karting had fits and starts due to sponsorship issues. Once she obtained a formal sponsorship through a pharmaceutical company (which has been an idea we’ve floated on our podcast to help shore up the money issue for drivers), she was able to be a constant karter. From 2000 through 2003 she didn’t finish a season below third place. After a few years in Karting, Bia changed over to the open-wheel feeder series and spent two years in Brazilian Formula Renault. During her career, she obtained multiple wins, Rookie of the Year honors, and finished her last season in third place overall. Following a season in Formula Three Sudamericana, where she ended the season in fifth place, Bia turned her attention to the American Open Wheel series.
In 2008, Bia started her rookie year in the Indy Lights series, driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. In her first year, she finished the Firestone Freedom 100 in fifth place. It’s currently the highest place finish for any female in the race. She followed that up with winning a race at the Nashville Superspeedway. By winning this race, she became the first woman to win a race in the IndyLights series. She ended the 2008 season third overall and took the honor of Rookie of the Year. In 2009, Bia continued winning races, this time winning at the Iowa Speedway. This earned her the honor of becoming the first woman to ever win a race at that track. Bia finished the 2009 season in eighth place.
[I]nside the track gender is irrelevant, and I don’t feel any different from a male driver. We are all aggressive and share the same goal of winning the race
Bia transferred into racing in the INDYCAR series in 2010 running a few races for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. She then went on to compete in nearly a full season in 2011, missing the second race of the season due to an injury at St. Petersburg. It would be her only full-time season and she ended that season in 21st place. She then ran a few races in 2012 with Andretti Autosport, the San Paolo Race and the Indianapolis 500. Her last year with INDYCAR was in 2013 when she raced in seven races for Dale Coyne Racing, it also was the year of her best finish in the Indianapolis 500: fifteenth.
Bia spent the past four years in the Stock Car Brasil (Brazil) series. It appears to be Brazilian NASCAR. From my quick research, there are up to forty drivers in the series. Ana finished her four seasons in the high-twenties, low thirties.
In 2019, as discussed, Bia became a part of the Heinricher Racing’s all female line up for the WeatherTech Sports Car series. Bia is part of this great female team (and if you’ve been paying attention, I’ve now written about every single driver), and I’m hopeful now you’ll realize why. She has a fantastic record in IndyLights. She holds many firsts for women in that series. She is sometimes overlooked for the more vocal or persistent female drivers who also came up through that series. It’s a bit why I like writing about her. Bia strikes me as the driver who is nonchalant about everything. Yes, she has these records, but it’s like “whatever” for her. She mentioned it in an article, discussing how she used the feminine traits of tact and diplomacy to overcome some difficult situations. I love that idea.