IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standout Katherine Legge is about to go up against a field of 40 NASCAR stock cars, and plenty of other women are out there setting records in their respective disciplines. Here are some of the great things women in motorsports are up to lately.
Other than a few big names, women in motorsports often don’t get as much widespread, regular media coverage as they deserve. We hope this series of posts helps change that, even just a little.
Katherine Legge’s Gets a Two-Race NASCAR Deal
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship racer Katherine Legge, who’s currently second in the series’ GT Daytona class standings with four events left in the season, is heading to the NASCAR Xfinity Series for the first time later this year—at a road course, naturally.
The JD Motorsports team announced this week that Legge, 38, will race in two Xfinity events this year, at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course next weekend and at Road America in Wisconsin later this month. She’ll be in the No. 15 Chevrolet Camaro, and said in the team announcement that it would be a “massive understatement” to say she’s looking forward to it.
From the announcement:
“Racing a stock car will be a massive adjustment for me from the types of cars I usually race, even on road courses, but I’m eager to take on the challenge. Thanks to Johnny Davis, Gary Keller, and everyone at JD Motorsports for all their hard work to make this happen.”
Driving the #86 MSR Acura in IMSA endurance road races, Legge has scored one victory and three additional podium finishes in seven races this season, and is currently ranked second in the GTD Drivers’ Championship. In 2017, the first year for the Acura program, Legge and co-driver Andy Lally scored the first two victories worldwide for the new NSX GT3, at Detroit and Watkins Glen International Raceway.
Owner of JD Motorsports, Johnny Davis said “I am very excited to work with this young lady. She has a very impressive background and we are glad to assist in her growth over to NASCAR and introduce her to the stock car racing world.”
But sports cars and stock cars aren’t the only thing Legge, who used to focus on open-wheel racing, has on her schedule right now. She was also just picked to compete in the new Jaguar I-Pace championship that’ll be a support series for Formula E.
Shantel Kalika Makes NASCAR Debut as Only Woman in the Field
Canadian racer Shantel Kalika made her debut in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series on July 28, where she was the only woman in the field. The Pinty’s Series is a NASCAR national touring series in Canada, which has some driver crossover with NASCAR’s top national touring series in America.
Kalika raced in three events the week of her debut—a Wednesday doubleheader at a 0.333-mile asphalt oval called Wyant Group Raceway and a Saturday race at Edmonton International Raceway’s quarter-mile asphalt oval. She finished 15th of 18 cars in the first race, 14th of 18 in the second and 14th of 17 in the third.
Kalika, 28, grew up in a racing family, but the CBC reports that she didn’t start racing herself until she was 20. She won a local pro-truck championship at Wyant Group Raceway in 2016 before moving to cars, and she told the CBC she feels “like [she’s] living in a dream.” From the story:
“I’ve worked so hard, my family has worked so hard to get to this point... I don’t want to stop there,” Kalika said. “I think we proved ourselves that we’re able to be there and we deserve to be there.” [...]
She said she’s heard everything when it comes to being a woman driver.
‘They’ll come up and be like, ‘Oh, who’s the driver?’ and you tell them, ‘Oh it’s me.’ And they’ll say ‘You drive this thing? That’s crazy,’” she recounted.
“Crazy.” Something like that.
Patricia Fernandez Wants to Break Her Own Motorcycle Records
The Ulster Grand Prix Irish road race is coming up in a few days, and rider Patricia Fernandez is heading there hoping to break her own records for fastest woman on the circuit.
The race is on a 7.4-mile street course called Dundrod Circuit in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, and the Belfast Telegraph reports that she set a record of nearly 119.7 mph there on a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R Superstock bike.
From the Belfast Telegraph:
“I had an amazing time at Dundrod last year and was happy to set that record,” the Tulsa native said, “but like any typical racer, I wanted more. I knew I could get faster and hopefully this year, that will become reality.”
Patricia is a regular Superstock 600cc rider Moto America competitor and will compete in Supersport, Superstock and Superbike races at the Ulster Grand Prix.
“I had only raced it on the circuits, but on the roads, I’d just not allowed for factors like the road surface and the bumps - it was hard work. This year, I’m better prepared physically, training 3-5 times a week with a personal trainer and I can honestly say I’m ready for this. [...]”
Fernandez told the paper she wants to break 120 mph at the race, “no excuses,” and that she’d “go back to Oklahoma with a huge smile” if she could hit 122.
Australian Motorsport Governing Body Adds New Women’s Commission
Australia may crack down on hooning, but it isn’t so bad when it comes to women in motorsports. The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport recently added a new women’s commission, which, according to its announcement, “will focus on women’s participation and development in motor sport.”
The country also crowned its first female professional drag-racing champion earlier this year.
But a women’s commission isn’t exactly new in Australian motorsports or in the confederation. The new commission replaces the Women of Australian Motor Sport initiative, which came around in 2010 as a branch of the FIA Women and Motor Sport Commission to, it said on its website, “to increase female participation in all disciplines and positions within motor sport in Australia.” The new commission takes over at the end of the year.
The announcement said the commission will be in line with the Australian arm of the “Dare to be Different” program that’s already in place, which is a branch of the program former F1 test driver and current Formula E team principal Susie Wolff started in Europe. Dare to be Different focuses on women in STEM, while this new commission will focus on women in motorsport.
From the announcement:
“We are excited to announce the creation of this new Commission, which will ensure we have a thorough understanding of the areas we need to focus on to increase women’s involvement in motor sport across the board and at all levels, from drivers to officials,” Arocca said.
“CAMS’ newest Director, Margot Foster, has confirmed she will sit on the Commission as the Board Portfolio Holder, providing valuable insights she has learned during her time in high profile sports across the country.” [...]
“Dare To Be Different has proven to be a very popular program and has already received plenty of interest from schools and young females keen on pursuing a career in the motor sports industry,” Arocca added.
A chair on the Women of Australian Motor Sport initiative, Karyn Hamer, said in the confederation’s announcement that she’s proud of what it’s done in eight years, with programs, opportunities, “come and try days” and development scholarships for women.