Women in racing aren’t anything new. In fact, it’s very old news. Camille du Gast, a French woman, was the first at the wheel in the early 1900s.
Today, Heinricher Racing fields Acuras in IMSA’s GT Daytona class for an all-female driving team with big-money sponsorship from Caterpillar.
Katherine Legge has been a top-tier driver for years, always just a heartbeat away from a big breakthrough. She’s more than held her own in IndyCar and IMSA, driving the Panoz Delta Wing before signing up to drive one of Michael Shank’s Acura NSX race cars.
“Racing is never easy,” Legge is quick to say. “Once you’re able to drive for one of the top teams and you’re able to see what everybody in the paddock has to go through. Everyone has a struggle to some extent, that’s what makes it worthwhile to get through (those struggles).”
For Legge, it was anything but easy in 2018. She drove like there was no tomorrow because there wasn’t. She had to get the job done at every race to make it to the next.
“Last year was tricky because we didn’t know if we were going to run the whole season,” Legge said. “We didn’t know if we were going to have the funding. We needed good results and we were in the championship hunt. We were able to put the pieces of the puzzle together and we got some help from Acura and we got down to racing.”
Legge’s grit and indefatigable spirit earned a permanent spot on Shank’s squad.
Then, Legge had a “what if” moment. What if there could be an all-female IMSA team? She formed a relationship with Jackie Heinricher, another driver running the Lamborghini Super Trofeo series. It was a star-crossed coming together.
“I had been talking to Jackie (Heinricher) for over a year,” Legge recalled. “When I met with her she told me her vision. We had the same ideas, the same drivers we wanted to use. We could only do it if we could get those drivers. My luck and her luck meshed and we took it to Mike (Shank) and asked him if he would be interested in helping us with the team side. He said, ‘Absolutely, it’s a great idea.’
“He believed in me, he believed in us and we could make a difference. Yeah, this is really Jackie’s baby. She pulled off something that a lot of people in racing have been trying to do for a very long time. And she found a major national sponsor and I’m really proud of her for doing that.”
Shank is all in.
“She (Legge) brought it to me,” Shank explained. “She had driver coached Jackie (Heinricher) a few years ago and knew her from that. Katherine just basically put the left and the right together. It took us about eight months to get the deal done. I think the deal is great, pretty unprecedented. It was super, super hard to put together and I’ll give that to Jackie for getting the deal done.”