Leena Gade became interested in engineering when she was 9 years old. Now, Leena Gade is the race engineer for Audi Sport.
She oversees the mechanics and engineers, and she’s on the radio talking the drivers through the course. In 2011, she became the first female race engineer to win the Le Mans, the legendary 24-hour endurance race, with her team’s Audi R18 race car. When it comes to split-second decisions on the track, Gade is the one who calls the shots. “You’ve got to always be very sure of what you’re doing, even if 90 percent of you doubts the decision you’re about to make,” Leena Gade says. “You have to convince everybody else that it’s the right thing to do.” She says one of the most exciting races was the Le Mans in 2011. With under an hour remaining in the race, the driver noticed a slow leak in the rear tire.
Her team had just one pit stop left, and the car was still in the lead. Gade had a decision to make: Lose time changing tires or keep the driver on the track and risk a blowout.
“In the end, we made the call,” she says.