Kate Gundlach, Named Honorary Grand Marshal of the 2021 Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, will Judge at the Cortile Italian Car Show
by Bernard Martin
We are very pleased to announce that Kate Gundlach, who was recently named Grand Marshall for the 2021 Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, will be joining us at the Cortile as a Cortile Cup judge. Kate will also be the keynote speaker at the Cortile during lunch. She will talk about growing up in motorsports in Pittsburgh and what she does now in her job as Performance Engineer at Arrow McLaren SP in the NTT IndyCar Series.
“I grew up with motorcycle racing,” Gundlach said. “I’ve been around it longer than I can remember. I fell in love with car racing, though, when I joined the University of Pittsburgh’s Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) team.
That love for racing sparked her to pursue a future in the sport.
“I wanted to get into auto racing, but I didn’t know where to start,” she said. “My Dad knew Danny Yanda from his track time at BeaveRun. He introduced me to Danny who gave me John Walko’s card, I took it straight back to my dorm room and gave him a call”.
“I had her start the next day,” said John Walko, of John Walko Racing, “We where in growth mode at that point. We where running three F2000 cars, two Formula Enterprise cars, a club program with Formula Continental and a Formula Ford and a two car Pro Mazda effort. It was a lot of balls in the air and she kept it running. People in motorsport are hard to find like that. It’s not a regular job. You are constantly working to a deadline. It’s never, ‘We’re not going to make that race’. It takes a special person. Kate is all of that.”
“When I started there, I worked upstairs in the loft, with a cardboard box as a desk,” Gundlach recalls. “That was one of my earliest lessons about racing at the professional level; you have to be willing to start at the very bottom and do whatever needs doing. Over the course of my time with them I learned not only about racing, but also about working with a team, working with data systems, writing contracts, doing budgets, creating sponsor proposals and a dozen other things. I was definitely thrown into the deep end, and loved every minute of it.”
In 2009 Gundlach joined Star Mazda as Quality Control Engineer and in 2012 joined HMV Racing as the Data and Electronics Engineer for Simona De Silvestro. That created a rare pairing of female driver and female engineer in Indy Car.
According to Bobby Rahal, “Kate was always a very sharp young lady. We hired her at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for a few years and now we compete with her, but that’s always the case with racing”
In 2018, Gundlach, along with Danielle Shepherd, became the first women to win an Indycar Series championship from the engineering stand, working with Scott Dixon from Chip Ganassi Racing.
Now, entering her second year with Arrow McLaren SP as a Performance Engineer, Gundlach is continuing her success with driver Pato O’Ward. She's completing against her old teammate Scott Dixon and Alex Palou both at Chip Ganassi Racing. Pato and Alex are in close competition for the points leader in the Indycar series, with her former teammate from John Walko Racing, Graham Rahal, not too far behind.
Please give Kate a big welcome back to the 'burgh!
This is a compilation of articles from a variety of sources and contributors. Attrition and sources are always provided at the top and/or the bottom of the posting.