Guthrie, Janet

Guthrie, Janet

(1938–  ) race car driver, pilot; born in Iowa City, Iowa. The daughter of an airline pilot, she flew her first Piper Cub at age 13; she worked as a commercial pilot and flight instructor while attending the University of Michigan (B.A. 1960), then worked as a research and development engineer for Republic Aviation Corp. (1961–67). In 1961 she bought her first Jaguar XK 120 for racing; in 1964 she placed sixth at the Watkins Glen 500 and won two Sports Car Club of America races. On her way to becoming the premier woman car racer, she took 12th-place finishes at the Daytona 500 and the Richmond 400 (1977) and was named the North American Road Racing champion in 1973. Then in 1977, as the first woman to compete in the Indy 500—where women had been banned from even the repair and refueling pits as recently as 1971—she finished 29th; in 1978 she finished 9th. She was named to the Women's Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.