Sarah Fisher is a very classy lady. I will explain the reasons I consider her so classy later but first a little history about her and one of the very few owner/driver teams in Indy Car racing.
Sarah was born Oct 4 1980 and was in her first race car at 5 in a 1/4 midget. She came from a racing family as her father was a sprint car driver and her mother raced karts. Sarah started racing karts at an early age and won many major championships. At age 15 she started racing dirt track sprint cars. For those that don’t know they are 410 cu. inch 850 Hp fire breathing methanol burning winged monsters. Weighing only about 1200 lbs and front engined they can actually smoke their tires on dirt.
She ran with the World of Outlaws, the toughest series going and with the All Star Circuit another tough touring group. In 1995 she was named Dirt Track Rookie of the year. Among her accomplishments was a 2nd with the All Stars at the famous Eldora Speedway and a lap record at Winchester. She ran sprinters through 99 but also ran with ARCA, NAMARS and USAC. In 99 she won 5 A Main Midget races. This background explains why she has, at least so far, rarely run road races in the Indy Car Series.
She ran her first Indy Car race in 99 at age 19. Almost forgotten is the fact that she was the 1st woman to take a pole in Indy Car at Kentucky and has twice finished in the top 3 with a second at Kentucky and a 3rd at Miami Homestead. She was also the first woman to lead an Indy Car race and was voted most popular driver 3 times.
Running with underfunded teams things did not go too well and she went NASCAR West racing in 2004/5 where she again took Most Popular driver.
Returning to Indy Car in 2006 and 07 she ran with the underfunded Dreyer and Rienbold team. At least one thing worked out and she married her crew chief Andy O’Gara in Sept 07. In 2008 she and Andy formed Sarah Fisher Racing and ran a very limited schedule. 2009 a slightly more ambitious schedule was on tap and even more this year.
She acquired Dollar General as her main sponsor last year and they generously gave her a new chassis last fall. Her car had been an used 2003 chassis that had been repaired so often it was 120lbs overweight. An interesting point the average person does not know is that even carbon fibre chassis gradually lose some of their rigidity and therefore performance. That is true even without all the repairs which also probably put weight where it was not wanted.
Now on to why she is such a classy lady. She has yet to actually drive the new car!
For the first 3 races of the year, which were road or street races Graham Rahal drove the car, with sponsorship. Thereafter Sarah put young Jay Howard in the car while she drove the old one. I am sure he was paying for the ride but just the same he got the new one. Then last week at Kentucky she offered the new car to Graham Rahal and from what I gather money did not change hands. He did bring some sponsorship.
Now Sarah all along has been involved in a fair amount of charitable work but as of this year has become deeply involved and supporting the ALS work. ALS is also known a Lou Gerhig’s disease and so far is incurable and always fatal. A part time employee, Carey Hall, has come down with ALS. He owns a car painting enterprise and does Sarah’s cars and several other Indy Cars. In addition he is the fuel man for Sarah’s team. He worked at Kentucky but it is likely to be his last race as his hands are weakening. The Fisher Racing team is carrying supporting advertising for ALS at no charge and the entire team are behind Carey. Sarah is also working to help raise funds for ALS in other ways.
They are still a small and very underfunded team and at times it shows. But every year they are doing more and hopefully will be able to run a full schedule next year. Maybe Sarah will even drive the newer car! It is unlikely she will run in any of the road races herself, as she admits she has no real experience with road racing. She has also said she intends to keep the team going when she retires as a driver.
Along with all this she is close to aquiring a degree in mechanical engineering.
One determined and remarkable lady!