Diane Holl

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Diane Holl
Born (1964-05-06) 6 May 1964 (age 55)
Guildford, Surrey, England
Alma materUniversity of South West in Plymouth
OccupationDirector of vehicle engineering
Years active1987–present

Diane Holl (born 6 May 1964) is a British engineer who has worked in Formula One, Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART), and NASCAR. She is employed at the Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR team as director of vehicle engineering.

The only woman to graduate from a class of 65 in mechanical engineering at the University of South West in Plymouth, Holl interned at Reynard Motorsport and March Engineering before moving to the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One team to work as a chassis design engineer under the supervision of John Barnard. In 1996, she became the first woman race engineer to win a CART motor race and engineered Tony Kanaan to the 1998 Rookie of the Year. Holl was employed by McLaren from 2001 and later Michael Waltrip Racing from 2008 to 2015.

Early life and education[edit]

Holl was born on 6 May 1964.[1] She was raised in Guildford in the English county of Surrey.[2][3] At the age of nine, Holl's father took the family to watch Formula One racing for the first time.[2] Holl, however, found motor racing to be boring,[2] and thought of a career in ballet.[4] She excelled in science at school.[5] When Holl was 16, she changed her view on motorsport and told her parents that she wanted to pursue a career as a race engineer.[2] She was told by her secondary school teachers that she would not be allowed to take a course in engineering because of her gender.[6] Nevertheless, Holl enrolled at the University of South West in Plymouth in 1983.[7] Out of a class of 65 students studying mechanical engineering, Holl was the only woman.[2] In 1987, she graduated with honours as the top student of her class and earned the Institution of Mechanical Engineers prize.[2][7]

Early career[edit]

While an undergraduate, she accepted an internship with the Reynard Motorsport vehicle manufacturer that produced chassis for motor racing cars.[8] During her first internship with Reynard, Holl worked on the company's first carbon fiber reinforced polymer Formula Three chassis. She felt confident afterwards and went to March Engineering for a second internship. Race engineer Adrian Newey asked Holl to work as a wind tunnel designer on its IndyCar aerodynamic design programme. Six months later, Newey gave her £2,500 to design and construct a wind tunnel model, which was run at the University of Southampton by March Engineering.[9]

Reynard Motorsport owner Adrian Reynard was highly impressed by Holl's abilities and gave her a recommendation. It led to her gaining employment as a chassis design engineer with the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One team in 1987.[2][8] She worked on its British-based design team and was supervised by John Barnard. After five months. Holl decided to resign from Ferrari due to its demands for better engineering though Barnard persuaded her to stay and he let her work autonomously for four months.[9] She moved to the Benetton Formula constructor and later to Barnard's design consultant company. Holl was part of a team that designed a carbon fibre gearbox, which was used by Ferrari.[9] She however wanted to be more involved with on-track engineering instead of working in a design office,[10] and sought to move away from Formula One's increasingly serious and politically-based reputation.[3]

CART, Formula One and NASCAR[edit]

In 1994, Holl moved to the United States to become Reynard Motorsport's lead research-and-development (R&D) engineer for its Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) programme.[2][11] She then liaised with the Walker Racing CART team and went to race meetings.[9] In August 1995,[8] Tasman Motorsports owner Steve Horne moved to a two-car operation,[9] and Holl was employed as a race engineer for driver Adrián Fernández,[12] after Horne reviewed the qualifications of ten potential candidates.[6] During the 1996 season, she became the first female race engineer to win a CART race when Fernández finished first at the Molson Indy Toronto.[12] She was later assigned to work with Tony Kanaan, a driver whom she had been acquainted with in Indy Lights.[7] Under Holl, Kanaan won the Rookie of the Year accolade in 1998,[3] and said she helped in the development of his driving ability.[13]

After Tasman Motorsports was sold in 1998,[9] she was promoted to the role of chief engineer in 1999 and oversaw nine employees in its development, testing and race programmes.[10] She was briefly the chief engineer for Richie Hearn at the Della Penna Motorsports team during the 2000 season,[14] before moving to Chip Ganassi Racing's R&D division, where she conducted wind tunnel testing and was Nicolas Minassian's race engineer at the 2001 Indianapolis 500.[9] Holl returned to the United Kingdom for personal reasons soon after and contacted John Barnard to enquire about a job. He asked her to telephone Adrian Newey and the McLaren Formula One team employed her as a principal engineer. She led a team of designers on its front suspension system and occasionally worked with its race and test drivers in the company's simulator.[9]

In 2008, Holl returned to the United States to raise her child and took the role as director of vehicle design at the Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) NASCAR organisation.[15] During her time at MWR, she collaborated with its competition, testing and simulation departments. Holl left MWR in November 2015 and joined Hendrick Motorsports as manager of aerodynamics that month.[11] In August 2017, Hendrick Motorsports promoted Holl to the role of director of vehicle engineering, reporting directly to Brian Whitesell, the team's vice president of operations. She led Hendrick Motorsports' vehicle engineering group to integrate the design-and-build processes put into the development and production of its racing cars.[16]


  1. ^ Stucker, Michael J. (1 May 1999). "This Week in Racing History (May 2-8)". motorsport.com. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Hunt, Paula (4 April 1999). "The First Lady Of CART Diane Holl is the lead engineer for the McDonald's team". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Reinard, Paul (23 April 1999). "Diane Holl: Lady Engineer". The Morning Call. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  4. ^ Lee, Shannon (14 November 1997). "Audience's imagination captured by dream car". Ottawa Citizen. p. C6. Retrieved 23 May 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ Miles, Chris (1998). Inside CART: Diane Holl (Television production). Fox Sports Net. Event occurs at 00:01:41 – 00:03:56.
  6. ^ a b R. Arterburn, Tom (August 1999). "Racing against the odds". Mechanical Engineering-CIME. 121 (8): 112. ISSN 0025-6501 – via EBSCO's Academic Search.
  7. ^ a b c McKee, Sandra (25 April 1999). "As a lead engineer, Holl drives into new territory". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Schlotter, Bill (11 April 1997). "Woman Ascends to Pits". Los Angeles Daily News. p. S10. Retrieved 22 May 2019 – via Infotrac Newsstand.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Nate Ryan (1 November 2017). "Ep. 108: Diane Holl" (Podcast). NASCAR on NBC. Event occurs at 00:04:35 – 00:23:20. Retrieved 22 May 2019 – via Mixcloud.
  10. ^ a b Coats, Bill (26 May 1999). "A Racing Pioneer is in Town for Motorola 300". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. C1. Retrieved 26 May 2019 – via Infotrac Newsstand.
  11. ^ a b Spencer, Lee (2 December 2015). "Hendrick Motorsports names new manager of aerodynamics". motorsport.com. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  12. ^ a b Puet, Tim (24 July 1996). "Auto Racing Package: Woman Engineer's Victory Is First for IndyCar Series". Associated Press. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  13. ^ Brinster, Dick (1 May 1998). "Tasman a rare bird on the FedEx circuit: New Zealand owner, female boss and rookie driver lead operation". Rocky Mountain News. Associated Press. p. 7M. Retrieved 23 May 2019 – via Infotrac Newsstand.
  14. ^ Sproule, Marc (5 December 1999). "CART's Only Female Engineer Changes Teams". Championship Auto Racing Teams. Archived from the original on 22 August 2000. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  15. ^ Ryan, Nate (10 June 2009). "Worlds apart: Waltrip team's rebirth has international flair". USA Today. Archived from the original on 25 December 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  16. ^ "Hendrick Promotes Eight Senior Leaders". The Columbus Dispatch. 15 August 2017. Retrieved 23 May 2019.