Record updated 27-Sep-06
Katherine Anne Legge was born in Guilford, Surrey, she currently lives between Syresham in Northamptonshire and Indianapolis in America. She finished her academic education with 8 GCSEs and 4 'A' Levels and now has a career as a professional racing driver.
Legge made history in November 2005 when she became the first woman to test a Formula One car since Giovanna Amati in 1992 on the second and third days (22 and 23 November) of the Minardi team's final testing session at the Autodromo Vallelunga near Rome. She crashed after 2 laps on her first run on the track and it was decided to postpone the test until the following day. She then completed 27 laps with a best lap time of 1 min 21.176 sec. She was also the first woman to test an A1 Grand Prix car in December of 2005 for A1 Team Great Britain.
In 2006 at Road America, just six laps from the finish line, Katherine suffered an extremely violent accident. It turned out that one of the wing plates on the rear wing broke off just before the kink, an infamous right hander that is taken flat at over 160 mph. Unaware of this, Katherine turned in as normal and the rear of the car lost traction, spinning the car around backwards and into the bare concrete barrier, just past the tire wall. The car hit the wall so hard that it vaulted into the air, scraped against the fencing in a blaze of sparks and fire, flipped end-over-end and smashed into the ground. Upon impact with the ground, the chassis split in two just behind the roll bar, sending the engine and transmission hurtling into the fence in a shower of coolant and fuel. As would be expected, almost all the pieces of Katherine's car had disintegrated or crumpled, and the carbon fiber tub was all that was left surrounding Katherine as she rolled a few more times and finally came to a stop upside down. The Champ Car safety crew was on the scene in seconds and ensured Katherine's safety. Shortly after the incident, Steve Johnson, the president of Champ Car, reported that Katherine smiled and gave a thumbs up as she was being unloaded. Only minutes later, even before the maintenance crew was finished repairing the fence, Katherine stepped out of the medical trailer under her own power, waved to the crowd and smiled. Her only injuries were bruises on her legs and knees from hitting the bulkhead and steering column during the impact.
For a video of the crash at Road America click the link below.
Since starting her motorsport career as a hobby in 1990, Katherine has risen through the ranks to attain her current status. Below are just a few of her highlights and achievements to date:
- Earned three victories in first Atlantic season, winning at Long Beach, Edmonton and San Jose. (Two other podium finishes: second at Road America and third at Portland)
- Placed third overall in the Toyota Atlantic Championship as a rookie
- Became the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America with her victory in Long Beach
- Named RACER magazine's Most Promising Road Racer in voting by fans around the world
- Win in Long Beach named Southern California's Top 2005 Racing Moment of the Year in voting by the public.
- Won 2005 Atlantic Championship Series BBS Rising Star Award
- Tested a Minardi Formula One car, an A1 Grand Prix car for Team Great Britain and the Rocketsports and PKV Racing Champ Car in the months following the completion of the Atlantic season
- Finished 3rd in 2004 North American Formula Renault short Can-Am Cup, and 10th in the championship despite running only the partial season schedule
- Competed in select races in the British Formula 3 Championship in 2003
- Won the pole position at Oulton Park in 2002 British Formula Renault Championship with a time to beat Kimi Raikkonen's lap record
- First female to receive prestigious British Racing Drivers Club "Rising Star" accolade (2002)
- Captured the 2002 British Women Racing Drivers Club Susan JP Jamieson award for fastest lap speed, earning the title Fastest Female Racer in the UK
- Became first woman to win a pole position in British Formula Ford Zetec series (2000)