I had a chance to chat with former Champ Car standout, DTM driver, and IZOD Indycar Series hopeful Katherine Legge. Although she was unable to put together a ride for 2011, Katherine has been hard at work to get back in an open-wheel car. Follow Katherine at @katherinelegge on Twitter to stay up to date on news and notes from this lovely lady. Queers4Gears wishes Ms. Legge the best of luck in 2012!
The past couple of weeks have been very hard for Indycar and the racing community. Can you give some feedback on your thoughts about the incident in Vegas and Dan Wheldon?
KL: I mean…it was tragic. It was difficult to actually believe it happened in the way it did. It was such a huge accident…the way it happened was unbelievable. It was awful, and obviously all the thoughts and prayers are to the Wheldons. I knew him since I was 9. We raced go-karts together. He was older, and I followed his footsteps so to speak. I regret I didn’t know him better. From all the lovely things people have said about him he sounded like a fantastic guy. You realize as a driver things like that can happen, you take those risks knowingly and you prepare yourself and your friends and family for those risks…and how they would react if that happened. It’s a selfish sport in that respect.
You had a spectacular crash at Road America in 2006 in a Champ Car that you were uninjured in. Do you think something like a closed cockpit is needed?
KL: Gosh, I really don’t know. I’m not qualified to say. All of the drivers and officials are getting together to decide. Not having driven this current Indycar, I can’t really say. At the end of the day, there are things that can be done to increase the safety, but it is racing and will always be dangerous. But, I am for anything that will make it safer whether that be a closed cockpit or Plexi-glass over the catch fence or whatever.
You have been trying to pull together sponsorship to get back in the car, has 2011 been frustrating or has it motivated you to work even harder?
KL: It’s been really tough actually. I made the decision to come back here quite late and didn’t really start until January. I did think I would have gotten the occasional 1 off race, but it has been really tough. It has been a very long very difficult year. I cannot wait to get back in the car. One thing it has done, it has made me learn a lot about myself, my strengths and weaknesses, and I will be a better driver for it when I get back in a car.
Have you had any movement on the sponsorship front for 2012?
KL: Yeah, we are in talks with a number different people and teams. It is looking positive, but no contracts have been signed yet. It is hard to get the bits and pieces in place. You have to put together the primary sponsor, then associate sponsors, but you can’t sign associate sponsors until the primary has been signed and a team in place. There is a lot of positive interest though. Right now out of respect of Dan everything has been laying low the past couple of weeks. Hopefully before the teams take delivery of the new car (December 15th) we may have something in place.
How much do you think your experience in the higher-horsepower Champ Car cars would or will help you in the new 2012 Indycar?
KL: I am hoping it helps. I remember when we first got the new Panoz chassis and had to develop it. I hope that experience will come in handy. It has been a while since I’ve been in an open wheel car, but after a day or so I will be up to speed.
How would you sum up your DTM experience?
KL: Haha…hmm…good question! I learned a lot from going back over to Europe and doing DTM and learned a lot about myself, what drives me, racing, and driving different kinds of cars. It was a difficult experience, but everything that is difficult makes you stronger and more positive. It made me an all around better driver.
What do you have playing on your iPod these days?
KL: Oh goodness, actually I need to update it because I am going to Paris for an FIA meeting and to visit my Dad, so I need to get that sorted. But actually, I just switched phones; I had an iPhone in England, and need to transfer everything over.
What is your perfect “girl’s night out”?
KL: Haha, would probably be a good restaurant, a few good friends, some drinks…just laughing and not having to think about racing, which I do 24/7. It would be nice to relax and find out what goes on in the normal world!
Who do you think is the most underrated Indycar driver?
KL: Me? (laughs)…I’m not sure. I’m just going to say me to be politically correct and not make anyone mad. I’m not on the outside and I think from the outside is where drivers get underrated. The people inside Indycar know that the drivers are talented.
I ask that question because a lot has been said in the media about Dario Franchitti being highly underrated by people despite all of his success.
KL: The people in Indycar know how incredibly talented he is. There’s no question about that.
What is your favorite road car of all time?
KL: The old Ford F40…definitely…and the gull-wing Mercedes. I had a poster of it on my wall as a kid. That’s kind of embarrassing to admit! Those are 2 very iconic cars. I like old American muscle cars as well. Anything from the 60′s and 70′s.
Who is someone that inspires you?
KL: I get inspiration from a bunch of different people. My parents are obviously an inspiration for me. I run stuff by them and they haven’t had it easy in any way shape or form. My friends as well. It’s difficult to say there is any one person I aspire to be like, but growing up it was Aryton Senna for sure.
Is there anything you’d like to say or talk about that you are never asked about in interviews?
KL: No not really. I’m quite private, and I’m very careful about what I say on Facebook and Twitter because I don’t want to be taken the wrong way. I don’t want to put everything out there and leave nothing to the imagination. I like to have an air of mystery about me so to speak.