Monday, July 11, 2011

Milka Duno

Milka Duno (born April 22, 1972 in Caracas) is a Venezuelan race car driver who competed in the IndyCar Series, and competes in the ARCA Racing Series. She is best known for holding the record of highest finish for a female driver in the 24 Hours of Daytona.Duno is a former model and has thus attracted much attention. Her racing career is unusual because of her late start. She was introduced to the sport when she was invited to a driving clinic by a car club in Venezuela and did not start racing until she was 24. Prior to racing her background was primarily academic. Duno holds master's degrees in Organizational Development, Naval Architecture, Maritime Business, and Marine Biology, and she has prior experience working as a naval engineer.
She began her career as a driver in Venezuela in 1996, finishing 2nd in the Venezuelan GT Championship. In 1998, Duno placed 4th in the Venezuelan Porsche Supercup Championship. In 1999, she moved to the United States and attended advanced racing schools and drove in the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 2000. Milka was the first woman in history to win a Ferrari Challenge Race in the USA and also she won her first Series Championship - The Panoz GT Series.
Later in 2000, Duno made her American Le Mans Series debut, she was the first woman to finish in a class podium on this championship. She made her 24 Hours of Daytona debut the next year and her 24 Hours of Le Mans debut a year later. In 2001 and 2003, Duno also competed in the World Series by Nissan open-wheel series in Europe, she became the first woman to score points in this Championship. Also in 2001, She was crowned Vice-Champion Driver in the LMP 675 Class of the American Le Mans Series, she scored an impressive four wins in this class - including the prestigious 10 hour Petit Le Mans - becoming the first woman to score a class win in this major international sportscar competition. In 2004 She scored yet another LMP 675 class win in Petit Le Mans.
Beginning in 2004, Duno competed full time in the Rolex Grand-Am series driving a Pontiac-Riley Daytona Prototype for the Howard-Boss Motorsports team. Duno joined the SAMAX Motorsport team in 2006. For the 2007 24 Hours of Daytona, Duno teamed up with Ryan Dalziel, Darren Manning, and her regular driving partner, Patrick Carpentier; with a second place finish, Duno became the highest-finishing female in the history of the prestigious race. In the Rolex Sports Car Series Milka scored three impressive and historical overall wins - twice at Homestead-Miami Speedway and once at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Quebec: With her first Rolex Series won at Miami she became the first woman in history to win overall a major international sportscar race in North America, Milka was also the first woman to pilot the fastest cars in the series - the Daytona Prototype. During her time competing in the Rolex Series Milka earned three overall wins, seven podium appearances, ten top five finishes and eighteen top ten finishes.
On December 14, 2006, car owner Larry Cahill announced that he had signed Duno to drive for his team in the Indy Racing League IndyCar series for 2007. However, the team did not ultimately enter the series, and consequently, on March 23, 2007, Duno and her Grand Am Series team, SAMAX Motorsport, sponsored by Citgo (a Venezuelan state-owned oil company), announced that they acquired the equipment to run a 10 race IndyCar series schedule in 2007, including the Indianapolis 500.It was also announced that Duno will no longer run a full schedule in the Grand Am series.
On April 26, 2007, Duno successfully passed her IRL rookie test at Kansas Speedway. When Duno made the field for the Kansas Lottery Indy 300 (also held at Kansas Speedway) on April 29, 2007, it marked the first time in North American open wheel history that three women (Duno, Danica Patrick and Sarah Fisher) ran in the same race. Duno stayed out of trouble after qualifying last in the 21-car field and finished 14th.

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