Meeting Katherine Legge
As I have previously mentioned, initial responsibility for my lifelong addiction for motorsport must be attributed to my mother. With her driving style akin to Michele Mouton and me strapped in the passenger seat, I was hooked on speed from an early age.
Of course, traditionally, influence on an impressionable child for speed and fast cars is usually a Father’s role. But, not for me. Therefore, at the top of my interview wish list for my trip to Daytona was British racing driver, Katherine Legge.
Once my access to the paddock had been granted to the Rolex 24, I immediately looked up Katherine’s website and sent a request to interview her. To my amazement, I received a reply that day with a friendly “Sure! No problem.”
Keen to impress and give the necessary respect to a lady who blazed a path for many other ambitious women in motorsport, I researched as extensively as I could. With every video, article and story I found, my admiration grew for this inspirational woman.
Having tenaciously scrapped for every possible chance in Europe, a young Katherine Legge looked for opportunity further afield. Refusing to give up on her dream, she decided to ambush one of motorsports power brokers of the time, based on a tip off.
Katherine’s target was Kevin Kalkhoven, a serial entrepreneur and crucially, the owner of the CHAMP car world series. Acting on inside information, Katherine knew that Kalkhoven was in the UK completing the acquisition of famous engine builder, Cosworth.
Arriving at the front desk of Cosworth HQ, Legge politely asked to speak to Mr Kalkhoven. Despite an initial snub from a man whose time is precious, Kalkhoven dispatched his daughter to speak to this ambitious young driver. With the blessing of Kalkhoven’s daughter, Katherine was granted five minutes with the main man. The result of this conversation? A test in a Formula Atlantic car which then led to three wins in 2005 and a promotion to the CHAMP car world series for 2006.
Anyone pursuing a dream can learn from this story. Never, ever, give up.
For 2020, Katherine is leading a new team, GEAR Racing. GEAR-Girl Empowerment around racing. This ambitious new effort carries further meaning than just promoting a brand of engine oil or new model of car. GEAR’s mission is to promote and encourage female participation in motorsport. For Daytona, GEAR fielded their Lamborghini Huracan GT3 with four rapid ladies taking turns behind the wheel.
As the only FIA ‘Gold’ rated driver in the car, Katherine’s job is to guide and advise her fellow drivers. However, her role with GEAR racing goes far beyond driving the car.
Despite being pulled in multiple directions for meetings, briefings, pictures, autographs and so on, Katherine kept her promise to sit down and chat for my little podcast. In the end, we recorded the podcast in the opening hours of the Rolex 24 race, when her teammates Christina Nielsen, Tatiana Calderon and Rahel Frey were taking care of business out on track.
As we sat in the glorious Floridian sunshine, Katherine gave an honest account of her first heavyweight match with a CHAMP car, hiding in the loo at Sebring, her desire to race the Bathurst 1000, and even let my listeners into a little secret on her future racing plans!
To listen to my chat with Katherine, click on the link below: