In an era where the Formula One paddock is obsessed with finding talented female drivers, it is easy to forget that in other parts of the motorsport world, there are plenty of women proving that gender isn’t a barrier when it comes to being a racing driver.
One of these is Britain’s Katherine Legge, who has had a very varied career across a large mix of series, before currently settling in the North American Tudor United SportsCar Championship.
Furthermore, Legge’s participation in the sportscar series’ Prototype class is with the innovative DeltaWing Racing team, which is now beginning to shake off their mechanical issues and head towards some strong results in the ultra-competitive class usually dominated by the dated Daytona Prototypes.
The Checkered Flag caught up with Katherine to quiz her about her past, present and future series.
Despite starting out in the UK open-wheel racing scene, Legge soon went across the pond to enter the Atlantic Championship in 2005, where she took three wins and a third place championship finish.
Her next two years were spent in Champ Car, but for 2008 she returned to Europe to try out the ultra-competitive DTM series. Whilst she failed to make it inside the top ten throughout her three year DTM stint, being able to race dated cars amongst newer machinery showed her skill.
Up next for Katherine were two seasons from 2012-13 on a part-time IndyCar entry, and whilst she hasn’t participated in the Indianapolis 500 for the last couple of years, she will do next year.
Before entering the Tudor Championship with DeltaWing in 2015, Legge also raced with Amlin Aguri in Formula E at the Beijing and Putrajaya rounds.
“I like everything I have driven in different ways,” commented Katherine. “All the cars and the series have unique qualities that have shaped my race career, made me a stronger, more versatile driver, and made it so enjoyable to be part of the industry.”
Legge, co-driver Memo Rojas and the DeltaWing team have been understandably disappointed due to their car’s reliability issues that have thus far plagued their 2015 campaign. Luckily however, an eighth place finish at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and a P6 at Road America recently might be a hint of what’s to come for them.
“I absolutely believe in my team, it has been a development project from the start but we have made a lot of progress and when you are dealing with innovative technology it is a process!
The car has been very competitive in places but further to CTMP I hope we have gotten rid of our reliability gremlins and can focus now on speed.”
Coming up is a sprint race at Circuit of the Americas and ending the season will be Road Atlanta’s infamous Petit Le Mans.
Legge has been announced as the driver for the all-female Grace Autosport team entering the Indianapolis 500 in 2016. She told TCF that the preparation is going “very well”.
“We have had extremely positive feedback to date and it’s going to be very exciting. Our team is made up of particularly talented individuals and I am looking forward to working with them all to achieve the Grace objectives.”
“[Being a part of this team is] a great way to showcase the current talent we have in motorsport and increase STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) awareness.”
“Could this project become something bigger than just an Indy 500 entry?” I asked her.
“Let’s see how it develops, but ideally this will grow!”
“I first came to the USA to try out for a scholarship in Indy Lights,” she explained. “At that time I was fortunate enough to be given a shot at Atlantics. The USA was where the opportunities were for me and I have stayed because I love it here.”
As well as her motorsport interests in the United States, Legge had a 3 year stint in DTM and admits that although the culture is different in Europe as compared to the USA, the fact that the ultimate goal is the same means that it is easy to switch between the two.
“They are all racing cars at the end of the day. Everyone wants to compete at the highest levels with the best results. Some things are done differently but the same can be said for different series within the same cultures.”
She briefly returned to the European-style of motorsports last autumn with a two-race drive for Amlin Aguri in Formula E at the Beijing and Putrajaya rounds of the new championship. Many were disappointed to see her leave the championship but her reasons were clear:
“I was already committed to DeltaWing and there were clashes with existing races and tests. It was a cool experience and I would consider it again with a competitive team.”
There’s another race she’s interested in entering, as well.
“Le Mans is on the bucket list, but I want a car capable of winning!”
Legge returns to racing as the Tudor Championship heads to Texas for the Petit Le Mans round, where she and Memo Rojas will be hoping to carry over their good form from the previous two races in Ontario and Wisconsin.