INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — One young girl is so inspired by female-led racing team Paretta Autosport, she’s changing her hairstyle.
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Elena Jimerson and her mother Kelly Tingle say they love racing and this year they’re cheering for Simona de Silvestro, the only female driver in this year’s Indy 500, and backed by a majority-female crew.
“I like that it’s all girls. Well, basically all girls,” smiled Elena. “And I think because none of the other race car drivers are women, I just think that’s really cool.”
After watching videos introducing the Paretta team, Elena and her mom noticed the women all wore a unique “side braid,” a french braid that wraps around their crown and ends in a ponytail.
“My mom said, ‘do you want to have that hairdo?’ And I was like, ‘that’s really cool, yes!'” said Elena.
So they spun Elena’s braids, snapped a photo, and mentioned team owner Beth Paretta in a tweet. To their surprise, Paretta retweeted the images and hundreds of reactions followed.
“It’s all well and good to say you want to inspire young girls,” said Paretta crew member Mallorie Muller, “but then to have one actually want to emulate a hairstyle that you’re doing, that we just threw up because we didn’t want to get our hair dirty with how oily our hands were? I think that’s when it really hit home.”
Muller is a college athlete who transitioned to racing.
“I have a 4-year-old daughter and so anything I can do to show her she can be anything she to be and do anything she wants to do, I’m going to jump at that opportunity,” Muller said.
It’s a message Elena’s mom is hoping she picks up as well.
“Watching our next generation of young women grow up in this way is really powerful and I think it gives me hope that we really may have equality someday in the future,” said Tingle.
“Sometimes girls think they can’t do things that are really big and men can because, I don’t really know why,” said Elena.
Not every member of Paretta Auto rocks the side braid and Elena is one of the first to emulate them, but she and her mom think it could be the start of something exciting.
Muller says for others who want to rock the hairstyle, check the Paretta Autosport Instagram page soon for a video tutorial.
Simona de Silvestro will race in the Indy 500 this Sunday in car #16.