WOMAN CRUSH WEDNESDAY: LEENA GADE THE FIRST FEMALE ENGINEER TO WIN 24 HOURS OF LE MANS
Written by Bruna Brito, Edited by Esmée Koppius
Leena Gade became the first female race engineer to win the 24 hours of Le Mans in 2011.
Born in Perivale in the United Kingdom, the passion for speed started when the family moved to India, and on the way back to the UK. With the influence of her younger sister, they started watching Formula One together. (Fun fact: Teena, Leena’s younger sister also become race engineer)
Fascinated and curious to understand how those amazing machines work, Leena chose to study engineering at the University of Manchester, graduating with a master’s degree in aerospace engineering in 1988, along with only 5 more female students, becoming the only one in her class to graduate.
Her first job was at Jaguar Cars, as vehicle refinement engineer, spending part-time as engineer for racing teams like BMW.
In 2006, she had her first contact with Le Mans, when she helped the team to construct the Chamberlain Tréluyer Synergy prototype. However it was only in 2011, when her incredible work was more recognized, that she became the first female race engineer to win at Le Mans, with the drivers Benoît Trèluyer, Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer with Audi Sport Team Joest. Claiming the winner animais in 2012 and 2014.
“When the car crossed the finish line I turned around and everyone else in the pit was crying and I couldn’t understand why. In my head I understood what was going on and we were going to make it to the finish line, whereas everybody else was saying, ‘Oh my God, that was so close.’ Well, 13 seconds is still quite a lot, guys, even after 24 hours.”
In the year of 2012, Jeena Gade was named for the FIA World Endurance Championship “Man of the Year” being also condecorated with the C&R Racing Women in Technology award, and ambassador of FIA Commission for Women in the Motorsport, in 2013.
Jeena continued her career as race engineer for James Hinchcliffe, a Canadian driver, who raced for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Indycar program.
In 2019, Gade entered the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. Later that year, she was appointed president of the FIA GT Commission, global Grand tourer racing.
Jeena Gade has a positive and great impact on the Motorsport world, as a role model, inspiring millions and we appreciate her tremendous effort and hard work.