The Danbury Fair Racearena even had a strict policy of no women in the pit area.

We've definitely come a long way.

Woman aren't just driving race cars today. They are becoming race team owners, part of pit crews, race reporters, race officials and inspectors.

DeLana Harvick, whose husband Kevin races for Richard Childress Racing, is a successful team owner. She is listed as the owner of a Nationwide team and a Craftsman Truck team.

With part-time drivers like Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Bobby Labonte and even her husband, you can't go wrong.

Teresa Earnhardt, the wife of the late Dale Earnhardt Sr., took control of the company, Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI) after her husband was killed in a racing accident in Daytona.

For those two woman, connections came a little easier than it does for someone who doesn't already have someone in the business.

That's why Lyn St. James, entrepreneur and former Indy 500 driver, started Project Podium.

Up to $50,000 in scholarships are available to young women drivers who compete in all forms of motorsports.

The scholarship program was designed to increase support for women in racing and to help them reach their goals. It teaches the necessary skills, such as fitness and mental preparation, plus business and media training.

Successful race car drivers Danica Patrick, Sara Fisher and Melanie Troxel have all graduated from Project Podium.

The project is supported by a number of partners, such as N.H.R.A., Newman's Own, IndyCar/IndyCar Pro Series, Rolex, Toyota Motorsports, Mazda USA, Grand Am, www MotorSports and Mike Hilton and the NASCAR Foundation.

Since its inception in 1994, more than 200 drivers have graduated.

This year's Indy 500 had three women compete; the Craftsmen Truck Series has three women who race from time to time and the NHRA has Ms. Troxel, Ashley Force, Erica Enders and several other women who compete regularly.

I took a look at the drivers' list at some of the Connecticut race tracks, such as the Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson Speedway, and there are several young women racing.

I wonder if they know about Project Podium?



Local race car driver Bill Deak of New Milford was second at the Accord Speedway in N.Y. this past weekend, and his son, Billy, was third.