Ahead of North America’s biggest motorsport event, the Indianapolis 500 Mile (Indy 500), attention has turned to the fact that there is only one female entrant in the race.
According to reports from NBC Sports and the Associated Press on Saturday, British professional driver Katherine Legg, 42, will compete in the 107th running of the Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana on 28 April.
Legg is one of only nine female competitors in the 107-year history of the Indy 500 and will be returning to the track after a 10-year absence in 2013.
In 2013, the Indy 500 had a record four female racers, according to the Associated Press.
“Sara Fisher (42-USA) and Danica Patrick (41-USA) were there, and then there was Simona de Silvestro (34-Switzerland),” Legg said. “I had hoped that the number of female competitors would snowball. But it didn’t.”
A decade later, Legg will line up on the grid as the only female entrant in the Indy 500, dubbed “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.스포츠토토
The Indy 500 has seen a growing number of female challengers since American racer Janet Guthrie, 85, first qualified in 1977, but in 2020, for the first time since 1999, there were “zero” female entries.
De Silvestro raised eyebrows by entering the Indy 500 in 2021 with an all-female team, but last year was another year without a single female entrant.
This year’s race was almost an all-male affair, according to Legg, who said she had to work hard to qualify and crashed in practice, the Associated Press reported.
“In 10 years, there have been fewer women competing, not more,” Legg said. “It’s disappointing,” he said, adding that he hopes to see at least nine female racers on the start line at a single event instead of nine in 100 years.
“It doesn’t look like that day is coming anytime soon,” said the Associated Press, “with Jamie Chadwick (25-UK) the only female competitor in IndyNXT this season, Lindsey Brewer (25-USA) the only female in USF Pro2000, and women are rarely seen in the next generation of competition for those who aspire to compete in ‘Formula One’ (F1).”
“Men overwhelmingly outnumber women in racing, starting at the entry level before the age of six. “Even at the highest levels, racers often have to raise their own sponsorship to cover the significant funding required by indie programmes. This can be challenging for women in a male-dominated field.”
“I’m excited to be back at the Indy 500,” said Legg, “I’m going to do my best, and I’ll definitely be back next year.”
The Indy 500 is held annually on Memorial Day weekend in the United States and attracts more than 300,000 spectators.
Thirty-three open-wheel cars compete in 200 laps of the 2.5-mile (approximately 4 kilometres) track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, making it one of the world’s top three motorsport events alongside Formula One (F1) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Last year, the winner’s purse was $3.1 million (approx. KRW 4.1 billion) and the total prize money was $16.02 million (approx. KRW 21 billion).