We caught up with Katie, looking at her career, this years Indy Lights season and the Mazda Road to Indy.
I've been in racing for 16 years. My love of racing came from my dad, who basically forced me into a quarter midget for the first time. (I was a dancer and cheerleader; I didn't have the slightest interest in cars) Then, I got into a car for the first time...and the rest, as they say is history. I raced quarter midgets from 9-years-old to 15, then moved to USAC Kenyon Midgets and USAC Ford Focus midgets. When I was 11, Lyn St. James took me under her wing and I attended her drive development program and also attended her Women in the Winner's Circle luncheon for several years. When the budget for racing became too big for my family, I decided if I couldn't race then I was going to talk about it for a living.
I reported for USAC for several years, including hosting a series called "Kickin' It with Katie" for USAC Sprint Week. I also interviewed for an internship at IMS Productions that same summer. I didn't get the internship, but I kept in touch with each of the people I met in the interview. Somewhere along the line, my name reached Mike King at IndyCar Radio. Mike took a chance on me and they hired me for the 2013 season opener and the month of May. My path then took me to Terre Haute, which has a ton of racing history as we all know. While I was there I did a story on Don Smith and his historic barns (filled wall to wall with race cars!) That story put me back in front of IMSP. Thanks for hanging with me for this long story, but there's so many pieces and people that came together to help me get where I am. To end the story, IMSP took a risk on me and helped me get on board at IMSP.
There's so many that come to mind right away. I'll pick a top 5 (in no particular order).
1. Spencer Pigot clinching the championship in the last race
2. Carlin coming out of the gate hot and winning the first 3 races of the season
3. Jack Harvey winning the Freedom 100 after coming so close before
4. Sean Rayhall also coming on strong...winning his 4th race ever in the series
5. RC Emerson's rise to the top (don't forget that massive flip at Toronto that he walked away from, then got back in the car the next day!)
Long Beach was incredible. Everyone talks about the energy from the crowd and the event itself, but you can never fully understand it until you experience it yourself. It truly is "THE" street course event.
Spencer Pigot has now won back to back Mazda Road to Indy titles, and now has a part time deal (at present) with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for 2016 through his scholarship, how do you view the MRTI in the role of preparing the drivers for Indycar?
There is no other series that has a defined path to the top rung of the ladder. Dan Andersen and the MRTI prepare drivers on every aspect of the sport. During the month of May, MRTI drivers even listened to a panel of IndyCar legends, such as Mario Andretti. The MRTI drivers are in front of IndyCar teams nearly every weekend, able to showcase not only their skills on-track, but also their personalities and interaction with fans. It's invaluable.
Dan Andersen and MRTI have certainly helped drivers get their name "out there." It also helps to have the races on NBCSN. It allows drivers to show sponsors some value to their investment. I think we'll see that continue to increase. We saw a major jump in IndyCar ratings this year. I'd like to believe we, as a sport and community, are on the rise. The IndyLights drivers, and entire MRTI, will reap the benefits of that.
And finally, do you have any funny stories from the season in Indy Lights that you can share?
Anders Krohn has some pretty great blackmail on me...and probably anyone else that saw me running down pit road post IndyLights Indy GP Race 2. Jack Harvey was leading but suddenly dropped through the field on the last lap. I thought he'd gone back to his transporter but spotted him on the pit wall. Anders has the video evidence of the rest.