With news breaking early in the morning, history was made today as Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced that British racing engineer, Leena Gade, would join the organization to lead James Hinchcliffe’s No. 5 IndyCar team.
The hiring makes Gade the first female lead engineer in modern INDYCAR history, joining Diane Holl as women in the sport to assume such a high ranking. Holl led engineering efforts on multiple CART teams before joining NASCAR’s Hendrick Motorsports, where she is currently employed.
“I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in IndyCar,” commented Gade. “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 U.S. to work in it like Piers (Phillips, General Manager of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports).
“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.”
Gade has made her mark in European motorsport while working with various sports car operations such as Audi, Bentley and Jaguar. Additionally, she has engineered cars in disciplines that include Formula BMW, A1 Grand Prix and GT racing.
She became the first woman to be the lead engineer on a team to win the 24 Hours of LeMans in 2011 – then she won it two more times in 2012 and 2014. To go with her on-track accomplishments, Gade is also an ambassador for the FIA Commission for Women and won the FIA World Endurance Championship’s “Man of the Year” award in 2012.
Today is an important day in the history of IndyCar, and Gade’s appointment by Schmidt Peterson puts the team on the leading edge of diversity in the series. To attract an engineering talent the caliber of Gade is substantial in its own right, for both the team and IndyCar to pry her away from prestigious factory sports car programs.
Below is the official press release from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Jan. 16, 2018) – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that three-time Le Mans 24 Hours winning race engineer Leena Gade has joined the Indianapolis-based organization to captain the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda driven by James Hinchcliffe.
Gade’s appointment to SPM marks the first female lead race engineer in Verizon IndyCar Series history.
The FIA Commission for Women in Motorsport Ambassador has engineered racecars in Formula BMW, A1 Grand Prix, GT racing and has worked for Jaguar Cars, Audi and most recently for Bentley Motorsport.
The Briton holds the distinction for the first female race engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and following her second win at the 24-hour race, Gade was named the FIA World Endurance Championship ‘Man of the Year’ and received the C&R Racing Women in Technology award.
“I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in IndyCar,” commented Gade. “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 [Phillips, General Manager of SPM]. 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.”
Piers Phillips, General Manager of SPM noted, “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. 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.”
The team next head to Sebring International Raceway for its first test of 2018 on January 24. Following the test, only six weeks remain until the Verizon IndyCar Series season begins in St. Petersburg, FL.