Le Mans-Winning Engineer Leena Gade is Heading to Indycar

After years with Audi, the superstar engineer will be leading engineering efforts for James Hinchcliffe's Schmidt Peterson Dallara Honda in 2018.

Audi Sport

Leena Gade, the world’s most famous race engineer, will lend her talents to the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock in 2018 when she oversees the Honda-powered entry piloted by James Hinchcliffe. With Gade’s move from a career forged with victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Audi’s all-conquering LMP1 program to the decidedly American discipline of IndyCar racing, the Briton will have a steep learning curve to overcome on its blend of road, street, and oval circuits on the 17-race calendar.

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“I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in IndyCar,” said Gade, who will join her friend Piers Phillips at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, where he serves as general manager.

“When I was a kid, I used to watch IndyCar, especially when Nigel Mansell first came over, and I followed it quite a lot. During my sports car days, it was a little less so, until I had friends come across to the US to work in it like Piers. I’m quite honored to be given the chance. It is going to be something completely different to anything I’ve ever done before, so it’s a big learning curve, but it’s a challenge that I’m really relishing, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Although the team’s press release confirming Gade’s appointment incorrectly positioned her as the first female lead race engineer in IndyCar, the native of England will certainly bring immense attention to the North American series—and the sport—for women of all ages who aspire to put their math, science, and physics education to work at the race track.

Diane Holl
Getty Images

Gade’s countrywoman, Diane Holl, paved the way for her and others in the 1990s with the Tasman Racing CART IndyCar Series team, and with her success as a race-winning open-wheel engineer prior to moving onto NASCAR, the continuation of Holl’s work by Gade—and other women who hold assistant engineering positions and impactful technical leadership roles—is transforming the look of IndyCar’s pit lane.

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“There was significant interest in Leena amongst the international motorsports community, so we’re really excited that she sees where we’re taking SPM, believes in what we’re doing and that she is now a part of our organization,” Phillips added. “I’ve known Leena for quite some time now, and I’ve worked alongside her, so I knew the credit she’s been given is well deserved. We’re very much looking forward to throwing her into the deep end and seeing her add to the team’s success.”

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