One of the most recognized engineers in international motorsports will be working in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2018.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that Leena Gade, who shepherded Audi to three overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has joined the team as race engineer for the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda and driver James Hinchcliffe.
The Briton’s appointment to SPM marks the first time a female will serve as lead race engineer in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Diane Holl engineered drivers Adrian Fernandez, Tony Kanaan (Tasman Motorsports) and Richie Hearn (Della Penna Motorsports) in CART from 1996-2000.
“I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in INDYCAR,” Gade said. “When I was a kid, I used to watch Indy car (racing), especially when Nigel Mansell first came over (in 1993), 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, SPM's general manager). 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, an FIA Commission for Women in Motorsport ambassador, became interested in auto racing while in England after living in India as a girl. She has engineered race cars in Formula BMW, A1 Grand Prix and GT racing and has worked for Jaguar, Audi and most recently for Bentley Motorsport.
Gade, who holds engineering degrees from the University of Manchester in England, was the first female race engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011. Following another win at the endurance sports car race and leading her team to the World Endurance Championship drivers and manufacturers crowns in 2012, she was named the FIA WEC "Man of the Year" and received the C&R Racing Women in Technology award from Lyn St. James’ Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation. Her team also won at Le Mans in 2014.
“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,” said Phillips. “ 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.”
Gade and Hinchcliffe will work together for the first time during a team test at Sebring International Raceway in Florida on Jan. 24. The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season opens with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 11 (12:30 p.m. ET, ABC).
We're very excited to welcome Leena Gade to SPM who becomes the first female lead race engineer in #INDYCAR! READ more about what she'll be doing with the team at the link below: http://spmindycar.com/2018/01/16/gade-joins-schmidt-peterson-motorsports-marking-first-female-lead-race-engineer-in-indycar/