News - 2013
Katherine Legge had at least one supporter in her corner when she showed up at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week.
AJ Allmendinger and Legge have known each other for more than a decade, dating to their early days in open-wheel racing. Legge hadn't seen her old friend in several months, so she made a trip out to the speedway to visit with Allmendinger during preparations for his first Indianapolis 500.
Once at the speedway, she got wind there might be an open seat available in Sam Schmidt's third car. Legge went after it aggressively with Allmendinger cheering her on.
"She had nothing, she basically just came out to the track to see me," Allmendinger said. "So she hung out, and then basically began piecing that whole deal together by herself."
Legge had an IndyCar Series ride last year with Dragon Racing, which ran her in 10 of the 15 events after an engine manufacturer change forced the team to share one car between Legge and Sebastien Bourdais. She ran her first Indianapolis 500 and finished 22nd.
Then Dragon decided to make an offseason driver change, replacing Legge with Sebastian Saavedra, and Legge has accused the team of stealing the sponsor she brought to Dragon. It left Legge without a job and not enough time to put another deal together. She snagged a deal to test the DeltaWing, which led to her racing it at Laguna Seca in early May.
Legge and co-driver Andy Meyrick finished third to give the DeltaWing its first podium in the American Le Mans Series.
From there, Legge headed home to Indianapolis and then out to the track to visit with her old buddy Allmendinger. Then she got busy putting a ride together for herself.
"She went to the series, she went to ABC for an in-car camera, talking to Firestone, talking to Honda, talking to Sam himself - she did that whole deal by herself, and pieced it together, and she didn't have sponsor money," Allmendinger said. "There were people there who had sponsorship who wanted to get in the car. I was so proud of her to see her work through that."
The deal with Schmidt wasn't completed until Saturday.
"I was texting her Friday night, `What's the news?' she said `I don't know.' Saturday morning, she still texted she didn't know," he said. "Then Saturday afternoon after my first qualifying, she came over and said they were putting a motor in. `I'm getting in the car."'
Rain washed out Legge's chances to drive on Saturday, so "Bump Day" was her first opportunity. She ran in the morning and qualified the car, an effort made easier when Michel Jourdain Jr. wasn't able to make a qualifying run.
"I don't care if there was one car to bump out, she hadn't been in an IndyCar since (2012 season finale)," Allmendinger said. "So to jump in and go run 223 mph takes some (guts). I am so proud of her, for getting in the car, and for doing that whole deal without anyone's help.
"Obviously she got a raw deal from the last deal she got, for her to do that, that was awesome and I am so happy for her. So yes, I am a huge Katherine Legge fan."
Legge was rewarded Monday when Angie's List signed on to sponsor her Indy 500 entry.
"It's great to see so many women on the track this year,"
said founder Angie Hicks of the four women in Sunday's race.
"Katherine has proven to be a relentless competitor with a
razor sharp focus on what she wants to accomplish. We really
respond to that kind of spirit around here at Angie's List,
so we're thrilled to partner with her."
There will be at least one bump on Old National Armed Forces Bump Day for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
Katherine Legge, who will drive the Honda-powered No. 81 Angie's List Schmidt Peterson Pelfrey-prepared car, is the 34th driver entered. She's expected to participate in the morning practice session May 19 and make a qualifying attempt later in the day. Bump Day qualifications begin, weather permitting, at noon (ET).
"I'm psyched to get back in the car, especially at Indy because this is such a special place," Legge said. "I owe a huge thank you to Honda, Firestone, the IZOD IndyCar Series and especially Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for pulling this together in the last minute to get the car on track.
"I was talking with Sam (Schmidt) in 2011 about driving one of his cars, and I'm so excited to finally get in one of them and work with the entire team in addition to Simon (Pagenaud) and Tristan (Vautier)."
Legge, 32, is the fourth female entered, joining Simona de Silvestro, Ana Beatriz and Pippa Mann. If all four qualifying, it would tie 2010 and 2011 for the most females in the Indy 500.
Legge, who qualified 30th and finished 22nd in her Indy 500 debut last May, competed in four IZOD IndyCar Series oval races and at Sonoma Raceway post-Indianapolis. In 10 starts, she had a best finish of ninth in the season finale at Auto Club Speedway.
"Katherine's top-10 finish in Fontana last year showed me
that she has the speed and endurance to finish a 500-mile
race, which are the most grueling conditions our drivers
encounter," Sam Schmidt said. "Our team is working very hard
to build her car and give her the equipment she needs to
qualify and race competitively at Indianapolis."
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has signed Katherine Legge to drive its third entry in the 2013 Indianapolis 500.
Legge will pilot the No. 81 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone car for her second start in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
"I'm psyched to get back in the car, especially at Indy because this is such a special place," said Legge. "I owe a huge thank you to Honda, Firestone, the IZOD IndyCar Series and especially Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for pulling this together in the last minute to get the car on track. I was talking with Sam (Schmidt) in 2011 about driving one of his cars, and I'm so excited to finally get in one of them and work with the entire team in addition to Simon (Pagenaud) and Tristan (Vautier)."
In 2012, Legge started 30th and finished 22nd in her rookie year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She made 10 starts on the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule, five of which were on oval tracks.
"I'm very happy that we were able to give Katherine a shot at her second Indianapolis 500, which is a lifelong dream of hers," Ric Peterson, equity owner of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, said.
Legge finished 9th in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., the only other 500-mile race on the series' schedule.
"Katherine's top-10 finish in Fontana last year showed me that she has the speed and endurance to finish a 500-mile race, which are the most grueling conditions our drivers encounter," Sam Schmidt said. "Our team is working very hard to build her car and give her the equipment she needs to qualify and race competitively at Indianapolis."
Qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 begins on May 18 and
continues with Bump Day on Sunday, May 19. The 97th running
of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on Sunday, May 26,
"I am extremely disappointed that Dragon Racing and sponsor TrueCar have announced a replacement IndyCar driver for the No. 6 car.
I received a letter from Dragon Racing, terminating my services on January the 18th. My legal team had asked for details regarding the reasoning for this termination but none have been provided.
I signed a two year deal for 2012/2013 with TrueCar as a sponsor, and then I took that sponsorship to Dragon Racing shortly thereafter. Jay Penske told Scott Painter (TrueCar CEO) that he would bring the Penske Dealerships onboard with TrueCar if I signed with Dragon Racing, so it seemed like it would be a good fit for all. I firmly believe that Dragon Racing and TrueCar cannot proceed without me and I will be taking legal action to protect my rights.
It was a very difficult season last year, we did very little testing and I was made to sit out of some of the races. Jay Penske's actions in Nantucket really hurt my ability to find additional and personal sponsors, and it was highly embarrassing, especially with the message that we were trying to portray regarding the empowerment of women in motorsport.
I was very much looking forward to 2013, using the experience I gained last year as a spring board for greater success.
I am in a very fortunate position to have the FIA (of which I am a Female Driver Ambassador) and Girl Scouts (STEM Ambassador) onboard with my career and I am working feverishly to put something together. However, having this happen so late in the game has made it virtually impossible.
I am not sure where TrueCar and Virgin stand on the 'Women Empowered Initiative' moving forward. I can tell you that I feel like I have been treated very unfairly in all of this and the last thing I feel at the moment is 'Empowered!' Scott Painter told the press on numerous occasions that it was a two-year deal with me and how he believed women could race on an equal footing with the guys.
I have spent most of this off-season trying to help TrueCar mitigate their costs and bring sponsors onboard with their Initiative, having invested a great deal of my own time, effort and money, so this has come as a huge shock.
I am also not sure whether IndyCar will take a stand on my behalf. I believe that the contracts are between the Teams and IndyCar so I am unsure of whether there is anything they can do apart from lend me their support.
I have fought very hard, every step of my career, to get
the opportunities that I have created for myself and I will
continue to do so. I want to thank everybody for their
support during all of this, it has been very tough for me to
watch it unfold."
IndyCar driver Katherine Legge said she had a two-year contract that's unfulfilled; team and sponsor say they decided to move on with Saavedra
IndyCar driver Katherine Legge insisted Wednesday that Dragon Racing and its owner, Jay Penske, should not have broken a two-year contract for her to drive in the series.
Legge said she was alerted Jan. 18 that the Indianapolis-based team would not bring her back in 2013. Dragon signed Colombian driver Sebastian Saavedra for the TrueCar-sponsored No. 6 Chevrolet.
Legge said she will pursue legal action against the team.
Penske called severing ties with the former Champ Car driver "a non-story."
Both sides spoke Wednesday through statements released to the media.
We are thankful for the contributions Katherine Legge has made during her time at Dragon Racing, said Paul Woolnough, Dragon's executive vice president. But unfortunately our primary sponsor and Dragon Racing have decided it is best for the team to move in a different direction for the upcoming season. We wish Katherine her the best in her future racing endeavors.
TrueCar CEO Scott Painter said the association ended after a year's worth "of collaboration, hardwork, and TrueCar's sincere efforts to resurrect Katherine's open-wheel career." He said TrueCar "decided to pursue a different driver for 2013."
Dragon's statement said the team and sponsor "have ample confidence that they will undoubtedly prevail."
Legge's statement said she was informed of the team's decision Jan. 18.
"My legal team had asked for details regarding the
reasoning for this termination but none have been provided,"
she said. "I signed a two year deal for 2012/2013 with
TrueCar as a sponsor, and then I took that sponsorship to
Dragon Racing shortly thereafter. Jay Penske told Scott
Painter that he would bring the Penske Dealerships onboard
with TrueCar if I signed with Dragon Racing, so it seemed
like it would be a good fit for all. I firmly believe that
Dragon Racing and TrueCar cannot proceed without me and I
will be taking legal action to protect my rights."
©1996-2018 by Gordon Clay