Bill McAnally Racing has supported the racing careers of females drivers before, so when it was announced that the Roseville racing team has signed Julia Landauer to race the 2016 season it barely made a ripple in regional motor sports news.
And that’s a good thing.
Landauer’s signing means that female race-car drivers are so commonplace now, and are winning races and championships, that gender is rarely an issue to race fans.
“I try to develop great drivers whether they’re male or female,” said team owner Bill McAnally. “But there is still a lot of opportunity in corporate America for a successful female driver. And Julia is that.”
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Landauer, a former contestant on the long-running TV reality show “Survivor,” won a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship this past season in the Limited Late Model division at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. In 2015, she became the first female driver to win a NASCAR track championship in the Limited Late Model division at Motor Mile Speedway.
Landauer, 24, is originally from New York City but moved to Charlotte, N.C., to be closer to top NASCAR teams. She joins the 2016 BMR driver lineup that includes defending K&N Pro Series West champions Chris Eggleston, 15-year-old Todd Gilliland, and 16-year-old Riley Herbst. All four drivers will run the full schedule in the K&N Pro Series West, McAnally said, and select events in the K&N Pro Series East.
McAnally met Landauer in 2009 when she competed in a few Late Model races at Roseville’s All American Speedway. She graduated from Stanford in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in science, technology and society.
In 2005, Sarah Fisher ran the full K&N Pro Series West for McAnally and finished 12th in the season standings. She was voted by fans as the most popular driver in the series and went on to race in IndyCar and made nine starts in the Indianapolis 500. Now retired, Fisher is the first and only female team owner and the youngest owner in the IndyCar Series, as well as the first female team owner to win an IndyCar Series race.
Auburn race-car driver Scott Pruett received the 2016 Phil Hill Award from the Road Racing Drivers Club. Club president Bobby Rahal made the presentation recently in Florida before the running of the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Pruett and his team finished fourth in the premiere division, Daytona Prototype.
The Phil Hill Award has been presented annually since 1993 to the person the drivers club deems to have provided outstanding service to road racing and is open to drivers or members of a sanctioning body. Phil Hill, who passed away in 2008, became America’s first Formula One championship winner in 1961.
“I’d like to believe that through hard work, effort, energy and the dream, you can get to wherever you want to get to,” Pruett said in a statement. “And when you look at the quality of driver that Phil was and the recipients of this award, I’m truly honored to have my name in that category. I don’t feel worthy of it, but I certainly do appreciate it.”
Pruett left Chip Ganassi’s team after the 2015 season to join the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype fielded by Action Express Racing.
Team Ganassi tests open to fans
The Chip Ganassi IndyCar Series team will visit Sonoma Raceway on Feb. 10 for a one-day test session.
All four team drivers – defending series champion Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and recently signed Max Chilton – will drive on the 12-turn, 2.38-mile road course. It will mark Chilton’s first laps in an Indy car.
Race fans can watch the test session free from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Raceway Café will be open for lunch. A rain-out date has been saved for Feb. 11.
The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will be held at the raceway Sept. 16-18.
Mark Billingsley covers local motor sports for The Bee. Reach him at email@example.com.