KATHERINE LEGGE'S LONG BEACH ATLANTIC WIN NAMED SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA'S TOP AUTO RACING MOMENT OF THE YEAR INDIANAPOLIS (December 12, 2005) -- It was a moment that Atlantic driver Katherine Legge will never forget and now it's been recognized...
KATHERINE LEGGE'S LONG BEACH ATLANTIC WIN NAMED SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA'S TOP AUTO RACING MOMENT OF THE YEAR
INDIANAPOLIS (December 12, 2005) -- It was a moment that Atlantic driver Katherine Legge will never forget and now it's been recognized as Southern California's top auto racing accomplishment of 2005.
Legge's dramatic and historic victory on April 10 in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Atlantic race was named the "Top 2005 Racing Moment" in Southern California based on public voting conducted on lasports.org, the official web site of the Los Angeles Sports Council. Legge's accomplishment was one of 16 top sports moments of the year that were recognized by the LA Sports Council in the on-line voting which took place between November 15 and December 5.
Making her series debut in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama on the streets of Long Beach, Legge came from a seventh-place starting position to claim the lead of the race just three laps from the finish. She held off her hard-charging Polestar Racing Group teammate Antoine Bessette over those final laps to capture the checkered flag and become the first woman to ever win a major open-wheel event in North America. Legge went on to claim two more wins and finished third in the Atlantic series 2005 championship standings.
Legge and the other LA Sports Council award winners were honored in a star-studded celebration that was held on Sunday, December 11 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel and aired live on KCAL-TV in Los Angeles. Legge was unable to attend the awards gala because she was in Dubai over the weekend after testing for the Great Britain A1 Grand Prix team on Friday. Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, accepted the award on Legge's behalf and Michaelian plans to present the award to Legge when she returns to Long Beach to defend her title next April.
"It was really just a thrill to be nominated for an award by the Los Angeles Sports Council," said Legge, the 25-year-old native of Northampton, England. "For the win to actually be named the top moment in Southern California auto racing in 2005 is just a fantastic honor, and winning on the streets of Long Beach in my Atlantic series debut will always be one of the best moments of my career."
By being voted the top moment of the year in Southern California, the impressive victory at Long Beach by Legge edged out two other strong nominees in the auto racing category. NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver Kyle Busch's win at California Speedway in September was also nominated for the award, along with Scott Pruett's .096 of-a-second victory in April at the Grand-Am Rolex Series race in Fontana.
Legge was also happy with her performance in Dubai when she became the first woman ever to test an A1 GP open-wheel machine. "It was a terrific experience," said Legge of the two 20-minute on-track sessions for her home country team at the Autodrome circuit on Friday morning. "The car is completely different from anything I've driven before and it was great to work with the Great Britain team."
This week Legge is expected to get her first experience in a 750-horsepower Champ Car when she tests for the Rocketsports Racing team at Sebring International Raceway. The 2005 Atlantic "BBS Rising Star" award winner will also spend two days testing for the PKV Racing Champ Car squad next week at Sebring.
The Champ Car Atlantic Championship continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America. The championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition and has helped produce past Champ Car champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve. Champ Car 2005 competitors Alex Tagliani, Andrew Ranger and Ronnie Bremer are also established Atlantic graduates along with 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year and 2003 Atlantic champ A.J. Allmendinger. In 2006, competitors will fight for the 12-race championship and the unique $2 million Champ Car series champion's bonus. For more information on the Atlantic series, please visit www.champcaratlantic.com.