INDIANAPOLIS – Just past Gasoline Alley and inside one of the many garages at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you find Anna Chatten in her element, a woman in a man’s world.
“Respect is definitely something that is earned,” Chatten said. “So I had to earn it like everyone else. Maybe it’s a little harder. As the only female people are always watching and hoping you make a mistake.”
Chatten is the gear box mechanic for not one, but two cars hoping to qualify for the Indy 500.
“It’s a two-car team,” she said. “I take care of the gear boxes on both cars, Car #24 and #48. 24 is Sage Karam, 48 is JR Hildenbrand.”
Chatten grew up around racing, starting out in go carts, working her way all the way to the racing capital of the world. In 2009, she became the first woman to go ‘over the wall’ at the 500. That means she was a part of the pit crew’s elite 6-person team to work on the car in the pits.
Now that she’s a mom of two, she prefers to be on this side of the wall.
“We change gear box ratios, all day long,” Chatten said. “You can change .02 mile per hour, we’re fine tuning it that much. Some days I change the gears 10 times, so that’s what I do at the track.”
For this to work, she had to be good at her job, which she is. She also has to have a good rapport with the drivers, which she does.
“She’s got an important job,” Sage Karam said. “She does a great job. She makes them bullet-proof basically. It’s definitely an area where I’m never worried about it.”
Chatten grew up in Illinois, but now she calls Michigan home.
“I met my husband and we now live in Brighton, Michigan,” She said.
Once her work in Indy is done, look for Chatten on Belle Isle at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. There, she’ll have some more females inside the garage -- her daughters.
“My girls will be at the Detroit race,” Chatten said. “They’re just three and four, but they know Mommy works on race cars and they’ll be excited to come check it out.”
The 2019 Detroit Grand Prix is on Belle Isle starting Friday, May 31 through June 2.
Tickets can be purchased here.