Katherine Legge Returns to the Indianapolis 500 with Honda and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Katherine Legge will attempt to qualify for her third Indianapolis 500 this May
Katherine Legge’s American open-wheel career started with a test for women on Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile banked oval back in November of 2004. Morris Nunn’s wife, Kathryn, had called upon a group of women, together with Lyn St James, to audition for a probable Indy Lights ride the following year. Legge wasn’t invited but she showed up and was quick from the get-go, even though she’d never seen, much less driven an oval before. 
Legge had never seen, much less driven on an oval, but was exceptionally quick at Texas Motor Speedway in an Indy Lights test, November 2004 – Anne Proffit photo

To say she opened a few eyes would be modest, but success for a quick woman in open wheel racing, either here in the United States or anywhere in the world, isn’t anywhere near the access available to boys and men. Katherine has persevered at her craft. She raced with Polestar Racing Group in the Atlantic Championship in 2005, earning three victories and third place in the final standings. She was the first woman to earn victory in professional American open wheel racing.

A year later she was racing with PKV Racing in the Champ Car World Series, a much more difficult class of motor sport, and was 16th at the close. Legge’s monumental accident at Road America that year didn’t hold her back; the same evening she went to that year’s Atlantic Championship prize giving. In 2007 she went to Dale Coyne Racing. It was the first year – and essentially the only year – of the Panoz DP01 race car and Katherine Legge had a good, 15th place finish in the final results.

Legge, before her 2006 Champ Car accident at Road America – Anne Proffit photo

The market for Katherine Legge pretty much dried up after that, so she went back to the Continent and had success in DTM with Audi, also racing in A1 Grand Prix and with Amlin Aguri in Formula E. Her Formula E competition occurred after she was racing – again – in the states with INDYCAR. 

Katherine Legge brought TrueCar sponsorship to Dragon Racing in 2012, when they started the season using the rightly maligned Lotus power plant, later swapping to Chevrolet power at Indianapolis. She was 22nd in that year’s Indianapolis 500 and only completed a partial season, with a 26th place result. In 2013 she ran Indy only for Schmidt Peterson Hamilton HP Motorsports, finishing 26th. 

That was the extent of Katherine Legge’s open wheel career until this year., despite her 39 ChampCar/INDYCAR starts and a pair of sixth place results 

In the meantime she’s been a regular competitor in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, helping to bring Don Panoz’s DeltaWing to that series for three years (2014-2016), then moving to Michael Shank Racing for three years, the first in DPi prototypes and the balance in GTD sports cars with Acura NSX GT3 race cars. In 2019 she hooked up with Heinricher Racing with Meyer Shank Racing and has been competing in GTD ever since, including this year in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, where she took Racers Edge Motorsports with WTR’s Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 to a fourth place in class result.

Katherine Legge helped Gradient Racing earn a fourth place GTD result in this year's Rolex 24 at Daytona - Anne Proffit photo
Katherine Legge helped Gradient Racing earn a fourth place GTD result in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona – Anne Proffit photo

This year, though, Katherine Legge will attempt to earn her third start in the Indianapolis 500, racing with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLLR), driving the No. 44 Honda-powered Dallara. The team announced sponsorship from Hendrickson, a manufacturer and supplier of suspension systems and components for commercial transportation needs for Legge’s third attempt at Indy in the 107th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Hendrickson has been an associate sponsor at RLLR since 2019; the company became primary sponsor of Christian Lundgaard’s Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course entry in the Honda Indy 200 last season; he finished 11th in that race.

This association with Legge marks Hendrickson’s second time as a primary sponsor in a racing event, and they’ve chosen the largest stage in the world to show their wares. “I am thrilled to be back at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for the biggest race in the world, the Indy 500,” Legge stated. “Bobby gave me my first chance to win races for the team in the Jaguar I-PACE series a few years ago, and it feels like a homecoming of sorts to be back with the team, especially seeing as I’m also very proud to be back with HPD in IMSA, and now in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

 

Legge in her Rookie Orientation Program test in 2012 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Anne Proffit photo

“Racing at Indy with an Indy 500-winning team and with Honda is an amazing opportunity and one I am very grateful for and intend to make the most of,” she declared. “I’m hoping I can learn from my teammates (Lundgaard, Jack Harvey, Graham Rahal) and team members, and transition smoothly back to open wheel racing for May. I can’t wait to get to work.”

Bobby Rahal, co-owner of RLLR said he’d made more than a few attempts to put Legge back in an Indy car. “I’m happy to announce that Katherine will join us in our Hendrickson Honda for the 107th running of the Indy 500. I’ve been a fan of Katherine’s for many years and know that, in the right situation, she can be competitive and figure into the outcome at the end of the race. She has driven for us before, in the Jaguar electric program, and won from pole in Mexico City, finishing on the podium several times,” he said. “It’s nice to have her back with us to work together at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time. I know she looks at this as a chance to show everybody what she really can do.”

The INDYCAR SERIES starts its 17-race schedule at St. Petersburg, Fla. the first Sunday in March. Practice for the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 begins May 18th, with the race scheduled for May 28th.

About Anne Proffit 1248 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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