On the chance that you’re not a fan of auto racing, then you probably don’t know that this past Sunday, May 27th was the 96th annual Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana. The event, billed as The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, is considered one of the most significant motorsports events in the world, which is why we think it’s pretty cool that a double dose of WYSK-y style history was just made there by British born, female driver, Katherine Legge.
As she clocked her 200 counterclockwise laps around the 2.5 mile oval circuit at Sunday’s race, Katherine became the ninth woman to race in the Indy 500 and the first driver to be part of an all-female crew – TrueCar Racing Team… all while sporting a Girl Scouts logo on her helmet.
Photo by Chris Owens
Katherine, the first motorsports athlete to serve as a national spokesperson for the Girl Scouts, wore the renowned green trefoil logo to call attention to the Girl Scouts’ To Get Her There campaign – the boldest advocacy initiative in history dedicated to creating balanced leadership in one generation – and her partnership with the Girl Scouts as their inaugural STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Ambassador. The Girl Scouts named Legge the inaugural STEM Ambassador because she exemplifies the qualities needed to succeed in a STEM field by succeeding in the male-dominated sport of racing. These qualities include having a strong understanding of math and the sciences, being team-oriented, and working diligently toward a defined goal.
Katherine, who is also the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America – Champ Car in 2005 – attributes much of her success to the confidence and character she developed while growing up as a Girl Guide in the United Kingdom. Before Sunday’s race, she told CNN, “My parents said, ‘You can be anything that you put your mind to.” She said she hopes girls get the message “to follow whatever they want to be. And they have to pursue that with 110 percent knowledge that they can get there if they really, really want to.”
Today, at age 31, Katherine leads the TrueCar Racing Team, the only all-female race team focused on empowering high-potential women to become championship racecar drivers. The team’s primary goal, however, is the same as every other team in auto racing: winning.
As Katherine told The Detroit News in an interview last week, “(Woman drivers are) not a novelty anymore. We’re just drivers… The car doesn’t know whether you’re male or female.” She added, “We’re not in it to be the female face of IndyCar. We want to be competitive and do whatever goes alongside of it to make sponsors happy and that’s just part of the job, but the real focus is driving the car.”