Growing up in Speedway Indiana, it’s been amazing to see the changes made to Main Street. Sure, Charlie Browns has always been there, but more restaurants, shopping, and business have stepped in to completely revitalize the area. One end of Main Street is anchored by 1911 Grill and Speedway Indoor Karting. The business is owned and operated by former INDYCAR Driver and Team Owner, Sarah Fischer. She’s not the first woman to race, she’s not the first woman to own a team…but interestingly enough she’s the first (and only) Indianapolis 500 driver to have given birth. More than that, she is quite the person to emulate.
It’s truly no surprise Sarah Fisher went into racing. Her father raced, her mother raced, her grandparents owned a racetrack, and her uncle built engines. She started racing at the very early age of five in a quarter-midget car. She graduated to the Karting Association at the age of eight and won the national championship three times. She moved onto dirt track racing and was the 1995 Dirt Track Racing Round-Up Rookie of the Year. The logical next step for Fisher was a sprint car in the World of Outlaw races, and then the All Star Circuit of Champions. 1996 and 1997 saw Fisher in various USAC and ARCA sanctioned races, which resulted in winning five feature races and breaking the lap record at Winchester Speedway. For all of this, the Indy Racing League came calling.
Sarah’s IRL career started with Team Pelfrey in 1999. She debuted at Texas Motor Speedway (not an easy track to debut on!), she was the youngest person to take part in an IRL event and finished twenty-fifth. The following year Fisher moved to Walker Racing. The 2000 Indianapolis 500 was her first 500, and she was the third woman to compete in the race. Her race ended after seventy-four races after a wreck with Lyn St. James and Jaques Lazier. She rallied and earned her first podium, third, becoming the youngest woman to achieve a podium and youngest woman to lead a lap. In 2001 Sarah beat her prior record and took second place at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, it was the highest finish for a woman until 2008 when Danica Patrick won.
In 2002 Sarah switched teams from Walker Racing to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, due to Walker Racing moving over to CART. 2002 was a banner year for Fisher. She set the all-time speed four-lap qualifying record for a woman at the Indy 500 (229.434 mph) earning a ninth-place start. Fisher led four laps at the Michigan Indy 400 and set the Kentucky Speedway track record when she earned the pole. That record still stands today and Fisher is the first woman in America open-wheel racing to earn a pole. 2004 and 2006 were seasons of fits of starts for Fisher, she went on to complete a full season in 2007. 2007 would be her last full-season with IRL. She officially retired from racing in 2011.
During her time in INDYCAR, Fisher participated in a handful of NASCAR West races. She debuted in 2004 with the Richard Childress Racing and earned the NASCAR West Series Rookie of the Year, but struggled to put together a full NASCAR program due to sponsorship issues.
During her racing career, Sarah Fisher made the big step in 2008 to create her own team, Sarah Fisher Racing. After a main-sponsorship issue, the team raised enough funds to participate in the Indianapolis 500 due in part to fans providing funding. Sarah’s retirement in racing was driven in part by her decision to focus on her team. In 2011 the team joined with Wink Hartman becoming Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. The drivers: Josef Newgarden and Ed Carpenter. Sarah’s relationship with Josef Newgarden is one of the sweetest things. In his post-Championship special Josef had the purest and kind word to say about his former boss. The team merged with Ed Carpenter in 2015 to become Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing. The following year Sarah sold her shares and the team became Ed Carpenter Racing.
At this point in her career, Fisher could have easily taken a step back and rest on quite a few laurels. Instead, she gave back to the community that embraced her. After selling her shares, Sarah set up Speedway Indoor Karting on Main Street. Just over a year ago, Fisher and other purchased Whiteland Raceway Park and started the process of renovating it.
It’s hard to sum up the career of Sarah Fisher in a sentence. It’s a varied career where she touched multiple types of racing. Not satisfied, she became a team owner and helped grow one of the sports current champions. Finally, though, she returned back to her roots setting up a popular Karting location in Speedway Indiana and moving on to renovate another raceway.
No longer an IndyCar owner, Sarah Fisher shifts focus to new venture