By: Matthew Ganibi
“Racecar backwards is racecar” – I once saw this on an Alpinestars shirt. Clever.
This past weekend was a rather calm one in the world of motorsports. NASCAR remained on the Western time zone to do 312 laps around Phoenix Raceway on 3/12 for the United Rentals Work United 500 (spoiler alert – there was extra!). MotoGP pre-season testing went green in Portugal. Before we get going, we march on to part two of a new segment called “Ladies First – Shakas to the Wahine of Motorsports.” In honor of Women’s History Month, part 2 will highlight the contributions of two notable British racers: Katherine Legge & Jamie Chadwick. Next week’s article will send shakas out to American female racers: Danica Patrick & Hailie Deegan. Afterwards, we’ll send out shakas to F1 Academy/ W Series’ drivers along with Formula 3 racer Sophia Flörsch while our 5th and final segment will cover the contributions of Germany’s Sabine Schmitz & Italian F1 driver Maria Grazia ‘Lella’ Lombardi.
Ladies First – Shakas to the Wahine of Motorsports
With March being Women’s History Month, I wanted to send some shakas to a pair of women who have made their mark in the world of motorsports by letting their driving do the talking: British drivers Katherine Legge & Jamie Chadwick. Despite their British roots, Legge and Chadwick are both competing in American racing series. This year, you will find Legge competing in the IMSA Series along with a one-off appearance at the historic Indianapolis 500 (racing for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing). Her fellow Brit Jamie Chadwick is currently competing for Andretti Autosport in the IndyCar stock feeder series: INDY NXT, which is home to up and coming open-wheel racing drivers.
Known as a sportscar specialist in the racing community, Great Britain’s Katherine Legge is currently one of two female drivers racing full-time in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship and is also the only female competing at this year’s Indianapolis 500. The Brit from Guildford, UK became part of a select group of women to take the wheel of an F1 car during a 2-day test session at the Vallelunga Circuit (Italy) with the Italian Minardi F1 Team (currently known as Alpha Tauri) in November 2005. She started racing at the age of 9 and raced in various European series before moving to the United States at age 23 to pursue of better racing opportunities.
Legge got her sportscar racing career in gear during 2005 when she competed in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, where she won the series opening race in Long Beach. That made her the first woman to ever win a developmental open-wheel race in the US. Her 2005 Toyota Atlantic season concluded with a 3rd-place finish in the driver’s championship, highlighted by a trio of wins and five podiums. Katherine followed that up with a move to the Champ Car series and became the first woman to lead a lap in that series. She then returned to Europe to join the German DTM Touring Car Racing Series in 2008 – the same year that the Champ Car series she previously competed in merged with the IndyCar. Her DTM stint lasted until 2010 and following a 2011 hiatus, Legge returned to the states to race only on oval tracks during the 2012 IndyCar season. After that, she returned to sports car racing, which included four wins and 11 podium finishes during a three-year stint with Meyer Shank Racing Acura (2017-2019).
After competing in the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona in a Grand Touring Lamborghini, Legge returned to IMSA back in 2021 driving the Porsche 911 for Team Hardpoint in the Grand Touring class up until her switch to Gradient Racing in this year. In addition to her full-time sportscar racing schedule, Legge will enter her 3rd Indianapolis 500 race this coming Memorial Weekend. Prior to that, she raced in this historic race back in 2012 (started: 30th, finished: 22nd) and 2013 (started: 33rd, finished: 26th). You can follow her IMSA season and Indy 500 journey via her Instagram (@katherineracing).
If you remember seeing an IBM commercial back in 2021, you will notice a female racing driver being featured. That racer is current INDY NXT and Williams Formula 1 Team Academy driver: Jamie Chadwick. The 24-year-old Quick Brit is from Bath, UK – where she started racing at the age of 11. 2015 saw Jamie capture her first British Grand Touring (GT) Championship behind the wheel of a Beechdean Motorsport Aston Martin GT4 in her first year. This historic early career title also made her the first female to win a British GT Championship. Chadwick graduated to British Formula 3 open-wheel racing in 2017 – a year after graduating from boarding school at Cheltenham College. Her first ever open-wheel racing season was highlighted by a podium finish and 9th-place finish in the championship standings. The next year saw her become the first woman to ever win a British Formula 3 race after capturing a win at Brands Hatch. Following success at the Formula 3 level, she joined the all-female W Series in 2019, where she dominated the last 3 seasons by capturing the 2019, 2021 and 2022 driver’s championship titles (note: the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 global pandemic). During her three-year spell of dominance, the quick Chadwick stepped on to the podium 18 times in a span of 21 races. You can follow along Jamie’s charge through the racing ranks via her Instagram (@jamiechadwick).
Shakas to these women who continue to show aspiring racers that they can indeed competitively race in a male-dominated sport. Now, let’s take a lap around this week’s action in the world of motorsports!
NASCAR – Byron goes back-to-back in the desert! William Byron wins in Phoenix!
We start in the land of cacti with the United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway. Kyle “Mazda Miyata” Larson hustled his #5 Hendrick Cars Chevrolet Camaro to pole position with a 27.642 second qualifying lap around the tri-oval track. The dry, desert climate seemed to suit the Chevrolets of Hendrick Motorsports as Larson and his teammate William “Big Hat” Byron traded stage wins – Bryon claimed Stage 1 while Stage 2 went to the pole sitter Larson. It was supposed to be 312 laps of racing on 3/12; however, we needed overtime to decide a winner after a backstretch incident involving Ty Gibbs (#54 Monster Energy Toyota) and AJ Allmendinger (#16 ACTION Chevy) brought out the yellow flag on Lap 310. Despite winning the 2021 Phoenix fall race after claiming that race’s second stage and leading 201 laps on Sunday, it wasn’t meant to be for Larson as Big Hat Byron ultimately took the lead during overtime and grabbed the checkered flag first in his #24 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro.
Byron’s victory continued Chevrolet’s 2023 dominance, as the bowtie logo manufacturer captured 4 straight wins since Toyota’s Martin Truex Jr. claimed the Clash at the Coliseum exhibition race. Byron’s Phoenix bridesmaid actually wasn’t the #5 Chevy of Larson. The top 5 was rounded out by: Penske’s Ryan Blaney (2nd), 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick (3rd), the aforementioned Kyle Larson (4th) and Stewart Haas’ Kevin Harvick (5th). “Happy” Harvick led 36 laps and was actually leading up until lap 302. However, an incident on that very lap between the #10 Go Bowling! Ford Mustang of Aric Almirola and Harrison Burton’s #21 Ford Motorcraft Mustang caused a caution flag to wave. This sent multiple drivers – including Harvick, to scramble and make late race pit stops. A call for four fresh Goodyear tires ultimately resulted in Harvick emerging from pitlane in 7th place as others gambled on a 2-tire pit stop. Other notable finishers include: Fontana winner Kyle Busch finished 8th in his number 8 Cheddar’s Kitchen Chevrolet, Arizona native Alex Bowman brought his #48 Best Friends Chevrolet home in 9th while reigning Cup Series champion Joey Logano (#22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang) came home in 11th. Shakas go out to Stewart Haas’ Chase Briscoe – my driver of the day. He brought his #14 Mahindra Tractor Ford Mustang home in 7th place despite a 24th place start. Another set of shakas go out to Cup Series rookie Josh Berry, who bagged a 10th place finish in just his second ever Cup Series race subbing in for the injured Chase Elliot in the #9 Kelley Blue Book Chevy. Safe to say, Josh did a Berry good job there!
MotoGP – Testing! Testing! Portimão prep is underway!
Pre-season testing went green in Portugal this past weekend as 24 MotoGP riders took to the Portuguese circuit in Portimão. Day number 1 of the two-day test saw Ducati-powered bikes bolt out of the gate as the reigning champion, Italian Stallion Francesco “Pecco” Bagnaia whipped his title defending Team Lenovo bike around the rollercoaster track 78 times with his best lap of 1 minute, 38.771 seconds topping the timing sheets. Right behind him on the Day 1 timing sheet was Bagnaia’s fellow Italian Luca Marini who hustled his Mooney VR46 Racing Ducati around 65 laps Portimão along with a 1 minute, 39.005 second lap – the 2nd best time of the day. Miguel Oliveira steered his RNF Aprilia-powered bike around his home track 75 times and bagged a 1 minute, 39.466 seconds lap – good for 6th best. The best performing Yamaha was none other than last year’s championship runner-up: Fabio Quartararo. His 90 laps ran included his best lap of 1 minute, 39.614 seconds – the 8th best time of the first day. Day 2 was a slightly different story as the 2022 championship rivals finished closer to each other on the final pre-season timing sheets. The defending champ Bagnaia reigned supreme with a blistering, record setting 1 minute, 37.968 second lap. His French rival Quartararo clocked in a competitive 1 minute, 38.302 second lap with his Monster Energy Yamaha – good for 3rd best on the final day of pre-season testing.
Despite a rather light weekend of action, here is a rundown of what’s on deck for motorsports:
- MotoGP will take a week off prior to their season-opening Grande Prémio de Portugal at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão, Portugal on March 26th (3:00 AM HI Time). Stay tuned to Motorsport Minutes for broadcast details!
You can follow the entire 2023 MotoGP schedule here:
- After four weeks straight of racing, the NASCAR Cup Series calendar will head out East to Hampton, GA for the Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Race weekend will go green starting on Friday (March 17th) with practice at 9:30 AM HI Time. Saturday (March 18th) will consist of an additional practice session (3:00 AM HI time) along with qualifying at 5:35 AM HI time on Fox Sports 1. Sunday’s race will go green 9:00 AM HI Time on Fox Sports.
You can follow the entire NASCAR Cup Series schedule via the website linked below: https://www.nascar.com/nascar-cup-series/2023/schedule/
- Following a week off, Formula 1 resumes racing with the STC Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit (March 17th through 19th). Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend will feature: 2 practice sessions (17th – 1st: 3:30 AM HI Time & 2nd: 7:00 AM HI Time), final practice and qualifying (18th – practice: 3:30 HI Time & qualifying: 7:00 AM HI Time) and the race going green on Sunday the 19th at 7:00 AM HI Time with ESPN providing all of the action from Jeddah.
You can follow the entire Formula One schedule via the website linked below:
- IndyCar will remain dormant for the rest of March. They will return to action with oval racing on the 20 to 24-degree banking corners of Texas Motor Speedway for the PPG 375 in Fort Worth, TX during the first weekend of April. The PPG 375 weekend starts Saturday (April 1st) with pre-qualifying practice at 3:00 AM HI Time followed by a 6:15 HI Time qualifying session – both sessions being streamed on Peacock. The race will go green from Texas on Sunday (April 2nd) at 6:00 AM HI Time with NBC bringing you all of the action live from Fort Worth.
You can follow the entire IndyCar schedule via the website linked below: https://www.indycar.com/Schedule
- The electric Formula E series is currently recharging and will return to action with the Julius Baer São Paulo E-Prix in two weekends. You can catch all of the electrifying action on the weekend of March 24th (2 free practice sessions) and March 25th (qualifying and race day) with the race going green at 8:00 AM Hawaiʻi time. Stay tuned to Motorsport Minutes for broadcast details!
You can follow the entire Formula E schedule via the website linked below:
That is a wrap on Lap 7 of Motorsports Minutes! Mahalo a million to you for taking the time to read my articles and fueling my passion for racing. Let’s keep the dialogue going on social media! A huge Mahalo to Chanel and the ESPN Honolulu ʻOhana for this amazing opportunity – this wouldn’t be possible without all of you as well. Please share this article with loved ones on Facebook/Instagram, tag @ESPNHonolulu, use #MotorsportMinutes or even message me on Instagram: @hamburgermatty. I’d love to hear your feedback on these articles along with your NASCAR, Formula E, Formula 1, IndyCar and MotoGP predictions! Have a great week, Hawaiʻi! Until next week, keep it full throttle! Chee Hoo!