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Racing Pro Katherine Legge: First All-Female Indy 500 Team Is 'Empowering'

Sun, May 13, 2012 12:07pm EDT by 4 Comments

Katherine tells about her experience breaking ground in the male-dominated sport.

The 2012 Indianapolis 500 will be a historic one, as it will feature the first all-female racing team, sponsored by TrueCar. got the chance to speak with Katherine Legge, one of the six drivers on the brand-new team, about what it means to be a part of such a ground-breaking venture — and how she thinks her team will fare against the boys on the track.

Here’s our full interview with Katherine:

How do you feel being a part of this historic team?

“It’s just an amazing initiative. What TrueCar has done is forward-thinking and very ground-breaking. It’s empowering because there are six of us, and we’re all very supportive of each other. In order for this to succeed, we all need to do well. For me, it’s the most amazing experience I’ve ever been given, and one I’m deeply passionate about making successful.”

Have you received positive responses from the all-male teams? 

“Absolutely, and more so that I actually thought we would. Here’s the way I’m looking at it now: Most guys have girlfriends, wives, mothers, daughters, whatever it may be — so they’re supportive of it. Of course, I still think we need to get results in order for it to be successful. It doesn’t really work if we’re all running around the back of the field. So it’s a process. TrueCar has taken six relatively new drivers, and it’s a two-year program to start with, so it’s going to take a little while for us to become competitive and win races. They’re looking at it from a long-term perspective, and there’s no doubt in my mind that at the end of the second year, they’ll continue. We will have gotten results and it will have been successful.”

Would you say female drivers are just as aggressive as male drivers on the track?

“I think there are obviously some differences, but I grew up driving against guys since I was nine years old. Once I’m in the car, it doesn’t know whether I’m male, female, or whatever. I would say every driver goes through stages of being over-aggressive and under-aggressive until they find that sweet spot — just the right amount of aggression. I’ve had my fair share of crashes because I’ve driven too hard. It’s not like driving on the road; it’s a completely different discipline.”

Are there certain safety measures you have to take while turning up that aggression?

“Everybody has a healthy respect for the dangers involved in racing. If you YouTube my name, you’ll see the biggest crash you’ve ever seen in your life. But yes, you have to do everything you can to be safe. You go into the race knowing what the dangers are.”

Is there a possibility your team could win the Indy 500?

“Yes, absolutely. I was the first woman to win a professional open-wheel race in North America back in 2005, and then I followed that up with two more. Winning in racing isn’t just dependent on how good a driver you are. It’s also dependent on how supportive your sponsors are, how good your team is, what type of engine you have, how experienced your crew is; it really is a team sport. In order to win a race, everything need to be right, because it’s so competitive and there’s so much at stake. I would be silly to think we have a realistic chance of winning at the moment because it’s a new team. We’re all moving forward together. I’d like to think that’ll happen quickly, but it’s a process, and these other teams have years of experience. We’re playing catch up. It’s a struggle at the moment just to try to be on par, experience-wise, as everyone else — but we will get there. I have no doubt about that.”

The 96th running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place May 27.

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