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Engineer takes fast track to the top

Diane Holl may be the first woman to be chief engineer of a winning car in modern-day IndyCar history, but she doesn't see her accomplishment as anything extraordinary.

"I may be a pioneer, but I don't think of myself in that way," said Holl of Tasman Motorsports. "I've always been female and I've always been an engineer, so it's just a case of getting on with the job."

Tasman driver Adrian Fernandez, who won the Toronto Molson Indy on July 14, admits he was skeptical at first.

"Finding out Diane was going to be my engineer was a little unexpected, but once I was introduced to her, I knew she was capable of doing the job," he said. "I knew that if Steve (Tasman owner Steve Horne) hired her, she must be good, so I went along with his judgment.

"We've become more confident all year in explaining things to each other, and I think winning showed how far we've come."

Holl is the only woman to be chief engineer of a winning car since Championship Auto Racing Teams began sanctioning races in 1979, according to CART spokesman Mike Zizzo, who added that her achievement probably was a first in nearly a century of IndyCar racing.

"We don't have the full records of other sanctioning organizations, so I can't say absolutely that she's the first woman engineer to win a race," Zizzo said. "But women didn't start getting involved with the technical side of this type of racing until the early 1970s, so it's unlikely that another woman did it."

Holl, 32, is the daughter and sister of engineers. She grew up attending air shows and auto races in her native England.

"I used to go to events like the British Grand Prix in the 1970s, which was an exciting time for British racing," she said. "It caught my imagination and gave me the idea that you can win something by being very bright, and this became what I wanted to do."

ONE FORE ALL: Florida State women's golf coach Debbie Dillman was chosen to coach a group of 15 U.S. women at the fourth annual Japan-USA Collegiate Goodwill Golf Tournament Aug. 7-8 at the Tsu Country Club in Tsu City, Japan.

Dillman was chosen by the Northern California Golf Association. The course on which the 15 U.S. and 30 Japanese collegians will compete was designed by Japanese PGA Tour player Jumbo Osaki.

FSU's Aguri Okura and Central Florida's Christin Putnam were chosen as players.

ACES IN THE BOOTH: Tennis star Bjorn Borg recently came to the defense of female broadcasters commenting on men's matches.

A couple years ago, John McEnroe sparked discussion with his comment that women could not properly analyze the men's game. When HBO employed a crew of Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King and Mary Carillo at Wimbledon, dialogue was renewed.

"Men broadcasters have the advantage because they understand the male psyche, which is important in sports," Borg said. "But if a woman is knowledgeable, I'm okay with that."

_ Information from other news organizations was used in this report.