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* Purdue Grand Prix 2007 crowns its first female winner while a past three-time champion returns to display his prowess once again. (2:31)

April 21, 2007

Lehmann victorious at 50th Grand Prix; first female to win race

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -
Lehmann
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Liz Lehmann, a junior from Fort Wayne, made history Saturday (April 21) at the 50th annual Purdue University Grand Prix by becoming the first female to win the race

"It's more surreal than anything," the management major said of her win. "When I made a pit stop at lap three, I noticed I was in the top five. The next time I looked at the board, which I try not to do because it makes me lose my focus, I noticed that kart 7 (Lehmann's kart) was in the lead. I couldn't believe it."

It was the third year that Lehmann has competed in the 160-lap, 50-mile Grand Prix race, which takes place at the university's kart track north of Ross-Ade Stadium. Last year she finished fourth.

Lehmann, who has spent 14 years in kart racing, said her strategy was to take the race slow and steady. She said that having participated in a male-dominated sport for so many years hasn't changed her outlook on the race.

"I've never felt special because I'm a female," she said. "As for winning the Grand Prix, I couldn't be more happy or proud. It's a great honor."

Lehmann took the lead around the 87th lap and held off challengers for the remainder of the race. Andres Gutierrez, a junior industrial engineering major from Monterrey, Mexico, earned the pole position in the 33-car field. He led early before mechanical problems forced him from the race around lap 39. Sean Noonan, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering from Perrineville, N.J., also led for several laps before mechanical problems ended his run.

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Matt Bartolowits, a sophomore majoring in biochemistry from Indianapolis, came in second. Adam Berning, a sophomore majoring in aviation technology from Greenwood, Ind., placed third. Placing fourth and fifth, respectively, were Riley Lind, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering from Iowa City, Iowa, and Wyatt Brown, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering from Odon, Ind.

Official results of the 2007 Grand Prix will be released Monday (April 23), following a standard review by the race's scoring board.

David Wolf, a NASA astronaut and 1978 Purdue graduate, served as grand marshal of 2007 Grand Prix, which is organized each year by the Grand Prix Foundation. The foundation is a student-run, non-profit organization that conducts the kart race and related events each year to raise money for student scholarships.

Rob and Liz Lehmann
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Alumni races are held every five years. This year, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Grand Prix, two alumni races were run before the main race. The winner of the first race, for drivers of the first 25 years (1958-1982), was David Fuhrman of Avon, Ind., who won the Grand Prix in 1981. The winner of the second race, for drivers who raced from 1983 to 2002, was Ian Smith of Frankfort, Ind., who won the Grand Prix in 1993, 1994 and 1995.

Grand Prix Student Ambassadors presided over race-related events. They are Kaleigh Evans, a junior studying neurobiology from Newburgh, Ind., and Jill Steiner, a sophomore studying agricultural economics and communications from Berne, Ind. Ambassadors serve as spokespeople for the foundation, encouraging race support and business sponsorship, and also perform other duties. The ambassadors each received a $1,000 scholarship from the Purdue Grand Prix Foundation, and 19 other students received scholarships ranging from $250 to $750.

The foundation also receives support from Toyota Motor Corp., Coca-Cola, Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics, and radio stations WAZY 96.5, WLFF 95.3 and WSHP 95.7.

The first Grand Prix kart race, featuring cars that were made from scratch and powered by lawnmower engines, ran in 1958 and took place on an intramural field and adjacent parking lot near what is now the Recreational Sports Center. The race also was run for a time on the Engineering Mall before moving to the current track location in 1969.

Writer: Kim Medaris, (765) 494-6998, kmedaris@purdue.edu

Sources: Brad Nicholson, (765) 494-7771, bnicholson@purdue.edu

Megan McCarter, promotions director, mrmccart@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

PHOTO CAPTION:

Liz Lehmann, a junior majoring in management from Fort Wayne, is hoisted onto the shoulders of her teammates after winning the 50th Purdue Grand Prix on Saturday (April 21). Lehmann, driving for the Purdue Motorsports Association, is the first female driver to win the 50-mile race. (Purdue News Service photo/ J. Michael Willis)

A publication-quality photo is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2007/grandprix-lehmannwin.jpg

PHOTO CAPTION:

Matt Bartolowits, a sophomore majoring in biochemistry from Indianapolis, accelerates out of a turn during the 50th Purdue Grand Prix on Saturday (April 21). Bartolowits, driving for the Hillenbrand Hall Racing Team, finished second in the 160-lap race. (Purdue News Service photo/ J. Michael Willis)

A publication-quality photo is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2007/grandprix-bartolowits.jpg

PHOTO CAPTION:

Rob Lehmann celebrates with his daughter Liz at the conclusion of the 50th Purdue Grand Prix on Saturday (April 21). Liz Lehmann, a junior majoring in management from Fort Wayne, became the first female driver to win the annual kart race after having competed the previous two years. (Purdue News Service photo/ J. Michael Willis)

A publication-quality photo is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2007/grandprix-lehmanndad.jpg

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