IndyCar: Katherine Legge and Grace Autosport Need a Car

Photo: Delta Wing Racing
Photo: Delta Wing Racing /

Grace Autosport and Katherine Legge announced last May their Indy effort for the 100th Indy 500. Today they are close to realizing their goal, they just need a car.

When I interviewed Katherine Legge prior to the 12 hours of Seabring, one of the future projects she was most excited about was her return to Indy with Grace Autosport. Their program to help raise awareness about Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics for young girls was one close to me as a father of two girls.

Their team was going to be made up of women to show the growth of women in the field of auto racing. The most visible women in Motorsports are the drivers the likes of Danica Patrick, Sarah Fisher and Katherine Legge herself. The truth is the acceptance of women in engineering and technical roles in Motorsports has greatly expanded in recent years.

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It is now not a surprise to find a woman on the top of a pit box or in the shop. Something that a decade ago would be almost unheard of. The advancement of women in Motorsports behind the scenes in IndyCar and IMSA have opened doors in all series.

From shock engineers at Penske to Catherine Crawford, the lead engineer at Panoz with the Delta Wing, woman are here to stay in racing. The effort of Grace Autosport to put together this Indy program to showcase female talent was not just a publicity stunt, but a proof of concept. That the work of the women that have come before them has led to talent at all levels of racing.

The news today that just one thing was keeping Grace Autosport and Katherine Legge from going to Indy, a car. Normally that sounds like a world away, but in this case it is not. They really just need a chassis, they have an engine deal in place, sponsorship and the team. According to a story by Marshall Pruett at Racer, they explored purchasing a chassis that was for sale, but it was too far from race ready at this point.

That leaves them exploring partnerships with existing teams to try and find a chassis that they can put together and run in the 100th Indy 500. According to Beth Paretta the team actually has enough interest from sponsors to continue on after Indy if they can get everything in place.

Normally there are teams that bring an extra car to the speedway for the month of May with the hopes of putting a driver in it if sponsorship becomes a reality. Right now the Grace Autosport group has that and just needs to find a partner.

There is a time crunch now that there was not in the past. The entire month of May used to dedicated to preparation for the Indy 500. A late entry would have weeks to prepare for the race. Now with the Grand Prix run the second weekend of May there is only two weeks to get everything together. This really puts Grace and Katherine in a hard place. They had not announced who their engine partner is, with the struggles Honda has had in 2016 that could also influence any teams willing to partner.

This has to be especially difficult for Katherine Legge who’s last trip to Indy in 2012 was turned upside down while driving for Dragon Racing. The two car team they put together was powered by the new Lotus entry into IndyCar racing. When the Lotus power plants proved to be vastly underpowered, Dragon was only able to secure a single engine lease from Chevy for the two car team.

That left Katherine Legge in exactly the opposite position as she is today, she had a car but no engine. Fast forward to 2016 and the disappointment Legge felt in 2012 must be coming back. Her performance in the Delta Wing this year has been spectacular. Passing the entire field at the Rolex 24 of Daytona in less than an hour was an eye opener. Then two weeks ago she posted the fastest time in the car again at Laguna Seca on the way to a fifth place finish. She was ready to head to Indy and fulfill her dreams of not just driving, but completing at Indy.

There is still time for Grace Autosport to find a car to run at Indy, but it is going to have to happen fast. If there is no announcement within days of the Grand Prix of Indy it is not likely going to happen. I can only hope that a team sees the greater importance of this program than just a publicity stunt. This is a talented group of women that want to show what they can do working together.

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The spectacle that is gong to be the 100th running of the Indy 500 would be even greater with Katherine Legge piloting a Grace Autosport car. As we take the month of May to look back at the history of the Indy 500 we can see the future of the sport with a group of women that just want a chance to showcase their talent.