History Makers: Maude Yagle

By: Spencer Neff
March 26, 2021

Continuing in recognition of Women’s History Month, today IndyCar1909 profiles the life of Maude Yagle.

Sadly, not much is known about Yagle’s life but she does hold a notable part of Indianapolis 500 history.

Quiet Start

The Philadelphia native began her career as a car owner in 1928, purchasing a car owned by 1926 Indianapolis 500 winner Frank Lockhart.

Lockhart, who won the race as a rookie and started on the pole a year later, passed away at Daytona Beach, Florida following a land-speed record attempt.

Keech and the Simplex Piston Ring Special Team during their 1928 (IMS)

Yeagle filed the purchase under the name “M.A.” Yagle in order to avoid the attention of being a female car owner., However, the efforts were u unsuccessful as her identity became public.

For 1928, Yeagle hired Ray Keech to drive her Simplex Piston Ring Miller Special.

In their debut season, Keech earned three victories and a pole position.

The Coatesville, Pennsylvania native also earned a fourth-place finish at the Indianapolis 500 after starting 10th in their first race.

Landmark Victory

In 1929, Yeagle and Keech’s season once again began at the Indianapolis 500. With females prohibited from the garage and pit areas, Yagle was forced to conduct team business from the grandstands.

After starting sixth, Keach led 46 laps to win the Indianapolis 500, making Yagle the first female Car Owner to win the Indianapolis 500.

Another female-owned entry, this one by Marion Batten, finished 15th with Wesley Crawford behind the wheel.

Keec’s winning entry from 1929 (IMS)

Tragically, the celebration would be all too short, as Keech passed away following an accident at Altoona Speedway in Pennsylvania on June 16, 17 days following the win.

A year later, Yagle returned to the speedway with Frank Farmer, finishing 21st after starting 11th.

In 1931, Farmer and teammate Gordon Condon failed to qualify for the race. By 1932, Yagle was out of racing for good. Following her death in 1968, there was no mention of her achievements in auto racing.

Enduring Legacy

Continuing in Maude Yagle’s path, there have been numerous females to succeed at the Indianapolis, including in an ownership capacity as she did.

In 1952, Bessie Lee Paoli finished second with Art Cross behind the wheel. Ten years later, Mari Hulman George was the owner for her husband Elmer’s entry into the race.

Paretta following the January 19 announcement of her team (Joe Skibinski/IMS)

A quarter-century after George’s entry, Lydia Laughrey ran Steve Chassey’s entry into the event, a decade after Janet Guthrie became the first female driver in the race.

For 2008, Sarah Fisher became the first female Owner-Driver since Guthrie did so in 1978. Fisher also ran in 2009 and 2010 before becoming a full-time owner from 2011-2015.

In January, Beth Paretta announced the formation of her team, as driver Simona de SIlvestro looks to make her sixth Indianapolis 500 start on May 30.

Header Image By IMS



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