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Janet Guthrie was the first female racecar driver to compete in a NASCAR Winston Cup stock car race, the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500.
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Janet Guthrie was born March 7, 1938, in Iowa City, Iowa. In 1976 she became the first woman to compete in a NASCAR Winston Cup stock car race. The next year, she was the first woman to race in the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500. In 1978, she returned to both. Guthrie was named to the Women's Sports Hall of Fame in 1980 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2006.
Race car driver and pilot Janet Guthrie was born on March 7, 1938, in Iowa City, Iowa. Janet Guthrie broke into the dangerous sport of professional auto racing to become the first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500. Before she got behind the wheel of a race car, she was an experienced pilot. Guthrie learned to learn while she was in her teens. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a bachelor's degree in physics in 1960, she worked as a research and development engineer for Republic Aviation.
Janet Guthrie bought her first race car, a Jaguar XK 12, in the early 1960s. By 1964, she was competing and had even won two Sports Car Club of America races. In the early 1970s, Guthrie decided to dedicate herself exclusively to car racing. She was the first woman to compete in a NASCAR Winston Cup stock car race in 1976. And she made history again the next year as the first woman to race in the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. At Indianapolis she came in 29th, and at Daytona she was the twelfth driver to cross the finish line. In 1978, Guthrie returned to Indianapolis and Daytona, coming in 9th and 11th, respectively.
Out maneuvering many of her competitors, Janet Guthrie showed the critics that women have what it takes to make it on the track. She was named to the Women's Sports Hall of Fame in 1980 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2006. Her efforts have made it easier for later drivers, such as Danica Patrick, to get into racing.
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