Motorsports and Women: the Inside Scoop from Fiat Chrysler

A Girls Guide To Cars | Motorsports And Women: The Inside Scoop From Fiat Chrysler - Pat Caporali 1971 Dodge Challenger


A career in Motorsports

“On the day I was born, my dad drove me and my mom home from the hospital in an orange 1971 Dodge Challenger,” says Pat Caporali, Media Manager for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Mopar Motorsports.

After that auspicious beginning, Pat got her start as a radio sports show producer in radio and then a sports reporter for radio and TV in her hometown of Montreal, Canada. She developed a specialty covering motorsports and joined the world of IndyCar racing. “I spent another decade traveling the globe watching men and women push their human limits and cars going as fast as 242 mph (389.46125 km/h). I helped tell their stories,” she said.

The media manager currently works for FCA in Auburn Hills, Michigan. “This position has me going to plenty of drag strips with the NHRA (to smell nitro and see cars going 330.470 mph (531.84 km/h) in 3.897 seconds in just 1000 feet!). I also attend a lot of fun car shows — I can tell stories about lots of fast and cool looking race vehicles,” she adds.

Female drivers are a big part of Motorsports


Me in my dad’s orange 1971 Dodge Challenger

“It’s fantastic to see talented and experienced women compete on par with their male counterparts,” says Pat, who knows Indycar race drivers including Simona Di Silvestro, Danica Patrick, Ana Beatriz, Pippa Mann, Katherine Legge, and Sara Fisher, a team owner and driver.

In fact, there are many female professional drivers currently competing in National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) in the pro ranks of Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle classes. They have combined for more than 100 NHRA national titles! There are more competing and succeeding in the NHRA than any other motorsports series.

There are plans for an all-female IndyCar team called Grace Motorsports (headed by Beth Paretta who worked for FCA’s Dodge and SRT brands) that is hoping to run the 100th Indianapolis 500 in May 2016.


Pat with Matt Hagan. Credit: Richard Shute, AutoImagery

A stand in for another Pat: Danica Patrick

“I was occasionally asked to stand in as a body double for driver Danica Patrick for in-car photo shoots (wearing her helmet and firesuit),” says Pat. “I was often the only person available in the paddock that could fit into her firesuit (barely) and in her seat.”

How a Mopar gal takes R & R

Pat is as passionate about pets as the smell of nitro on a racetrack.“First and foremost, I take every opportunity to take a walk with my feisty Cairn Terrier Izzy,” she says.

Pat adds that anything that involves photography, scuba diving, travel or food makes her happy. The Mopar gal also owns a dirt bike and recently started to grow a vegetable garden that produced some killer heirloom tomatoes and basil this year. If she had her choice of vacations, it would be the Great Barrier Reef, Maldives, or Cozumel for Scuba Diving.

Pat’s podcasts and music for the road

“I have developed an addiction to podcasts, and I have at least 10-15 downloaded every week. My favorites include “Wait! Wait! Don’t tell me”, “RadioLab,” “Dinner Party Download” and “Peter Anthony Holder’s Stuph File.

I also listen to music a lot on my travels. My iPhone/iPod is full of classical, opera, metal, rock, and yes, maybe even a little bit of country. I’m also a big fan of mash-ups and movie soundtracks.”

How not to pack for the road!

“I pack quickly and badly. I have a very large Ogio bag that I travel with. I have never traveled with a carry-on bag only. NEVER. EVER.


A new Dodge Hellcat; too much temptation for Pat Caporali. Credit: Nicole Wakelin

I also pack way too much because you never know if it will be cold, hot or raining at a racetrack, but it usually does all three in a weekend. And there is always a dinner you might have to attend. So running shoes, heels, and flip-flops and a little black dress are staples in my bag.”

So what does a Motorsports woman drive?

Pat’s first car was a baby blue 1979 Chevy Malibu station wagon. She says she’s  “much too reasonable” when it comes to her daily drive, a Honda Element bought new in 2006 before she started at FCA. Pat is waiting to get a new Jeep Wrangler. “I’d get into too much trouble with a Hellcat,” she admits.

Note: I was a guest of FCA at Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia for a 2016 FCA lineup that included track and off-road time with Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Truck, Mopar and FIAT brands.





Holly has written about travel, cars, culture and health since she bought the first generation Macintosh. Her portfolio includes... More about Holly Reich