By Mark Ambrogi
Katherine Cole might be destined to be a 500 Festival princess.
Her relatives ran Cole Motor Racing Company and had a car in the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911.
“I grew up racing myself in the Soap Box Derby,” Cole said.
Cole, a 2013 Westfield High School graduate and Indiana University senior, raced from the time she was 7 to 18.
“Everything about it is inspiring,” said Cole, who was in the IU figure skating club. “The princess program has given me a platform to show young girls that they can be a princess and a racecar driver.”
Cole said the Soap Box Derby car was all about science, aerodynamics and math.
“I would spend all winter working with my dad in our garage making it as fast as we can,” Cole said. “I raced in the world championships four times, and I was one of the few girls there. It’s important for girls to show we can do that, too. Every time I would go up against a boy, which was almost every time, my dad would say, ‘It’s just a boy.’ My dad (David) was a great dad for girls.”
Her younger sister, Natalie, also raced in the Soap Box Derby.
Cole said she is eager for Kids Day May 13.
“I can’t wait to have all the kids there to tell them we’re real princesses and get them excited about that race,” Cole said.
Cole has a connection to fellow Festival princess Mackenzie Burnworth, a 2014 Westfield graduate.
“My mom (Jessica) was her first-grade teacher,” Cole said. “It’s fun to have another Westfield girl with me.”
Burnworth said Cole’s mother was one of her favorite teachers.
Burnworth is majoring in risk management and insurance as a junior at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne.
“I’m always looking for new opportunities to learn and grow and develop, not only as a leader, but a friend and teammate,” Burnworth said of her motivation for being a princess. “I’m on the women’s soccer team, and I’m also involved on campus. So being able to go out in my community and teach about the 500 Festival and Indy 500 is an amazing experience. I’m meeting all these little kids that have no idea what it is.”