‘It’s Not a Gimmick’: Growth of Women Drivers in Sportscar Racing Underscored by 24 Hours of Daytona Field
Nine of the drivers chasing a win at the 2024 24 Hours of Daytona this year are women, marking a record number of female drivers competing at the event since its inauguration in 1962. This year’s Rolex 24 begins at 1:40 p.m. (EST) Saturday, Jan. 27. The nine drivers will be competing for the first class win by a female driver since Claudia Hurtgen earned a class win in 1997.
Highlighting the record-setting lineup of women drivers competing in this year’s event is Katherine Legge. The British driver, who competes full time in IMSA, is making her 11th start in the Rolex 24 dating back to 2007. That year, she was the only woman driver in the field.
“I think it’s special,” Legge told IMSA.com. “It has been really neat to the snowball effect and the fact that it’s not different anymore, it’s not a gimmick, it’s just some of the best driver for the job and we get it done,” she added.
Legge has been a consistent competitor in IMSA since her debut in the series over 15 years ago. Last season, Legge and Sheena Monk drove the Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 to a ninth-place points finish in the GT Daytona Class. The team finished fourth in last year’s Rolex 24.
Legge’s resume extends beyond sportscar racing. She has compiled a dozen IndyCar starts, including the 2023 Indy 500. She’s also competed in Formula 3, Formula E, DTM and other series.
Legge will join returning teammate Sheena Monk to run the full 2024 IMSA schedule. The Gradient Racing team will comprise one-third of all women drivers in this year’s Rolex 24. For the second straight year, Columbian driver Tatiana Calderon joins the team for the season-opening endurance race.
The Gradient team will compete with the all-women-driver Iron Dames Lamborghini Huracan EVO2. The team, which also competes in the World Endurance Championship, is making its second straight start in the Rolex 24. The team placed 18th in the GTD Class at the 2023 race.
Swiss driver Rahel Frey is making her third start in the 24 Hours, looking to improve on her best finish of 16th in 2020. She joins Sarah Bovy, Doriane Pin and Michelle Gatting. Both Pin and Gatting have captured Ferrari Challenge Europe titles. Bovy earned three pole positions for the Iron Dames program in the 2023 WEC season.
Another GTD Class competitor in the field is Ashton Harrison. The Atlanta native will pilot the No. 45 Wayne Taylor Racing Lamborghini. Harrison placed sixth in class in the 2023 Rolex 24. Harrison placed third in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Pro-Am Series in 2022. She is the defending SRO Fanatec GT World Challenge America Pro Vice Champion which follows her Rookie of the Year honors from the series in 2022.
Lilou Wadoux makes her Rolex 24 debut in the LMP2 Class with the No. 88 Richard Mille AF Corse team. The French driver is the first female Ferrari Competizioni GT driver and earned a WEC GTE Am class win at Spa in 2023.