Janet Guthrie

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Janet Guthrie
Guthrie at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2011
Born (1938-03-07) March 7, 1938 (age 80)
Iowa City, Iowa, U.S.
Achievements first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500
first woman to compete in the Daytona 500
first woman to lead a lap in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series
Awards 2006 International Motorsports Hall of Fame Inductee
1980 International Women's Sports Hall of Fame Inductee
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career
33 races run over 4 years
Best finish 6th (1977)
First race 1976 World 600 (Charlotte)
Last race 1980 1980 Coca-Cola 500 (Pocono)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 5 0
Janet Guthrie's Wildcat 3-DGS, which she drove to ninth place in the 1978 Indianapolis 500.

Janet Guthrie (born March 7, 1938, in Iowa City, Iowa) is a retired professional race car driver and the first woman to qualify and compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500.

Guthrie was originally an aerospace engineer and after graduating from the University of Michigan, she worked with Republic Aviation.[1] She began racing in 1963 on the SCCA circuit in a Jaguar XK 140[2] and by 1972, she was racing on a full-time basis.

In the 1976 World 600, Guthrie finished 15th, becoming the first woman to compete in a NASCAR Winston Cup superspeedway race. Guthrie would go on to compete in four more races that season. The following season, she competed in her first Daytona 500, finishing 12th when her car's engine blew two cylinders with ten laps to go. For the race, though, she still earned the honor of Top Rookie. Overall, Guthrie went on to compete in 33 races in NASCAR over four seasons.[3] Her highest finish, sixth place at Bristol in 1977, is the best finish by a woman in a top-tier NASCAR race, now currently tied with Danica Patrick in 2014.[3]

Guthrie qualified for and competed in the 1977 Indianapolis 500, but finished 29th with engine troubles. She would compete in two more Indy 500s, finishing ninth in the 1978 race. Overall, she competed in 11 Indy car events with a best finish of fifth. During her unsuccessful bid to qualify for the 1976 race, many of the drivers in the male-dominated sport stated that the reason she did not qualify was mainly due to her gender. These comments angered then three-time champion A. J. Foyt to the point he lent Guthrie a back-up car to conduct a shake-down test. Her top practice lap in Foyt's car would have been adequate to qualify for the field.[4] Largely because of her gender, she was unable to obtain funding through corporate sponsorship, and was forced into retirement.[5][6]

Nevertheless, Guthrie's place in history was secure. In 1979, the Supersisters trading card set was produced and distributed; one of the cards featured Guthrie's name and picture.[7] Her helmet and race suit can be found in the Smithsonian Institution and Guthrie was one of the first elected to the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame.[8] She was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame on April 27, 2006. Her 2005 autobiography, Janet Guthrie: A Life at Full Throttle, has received critical praise in such publications as Sports Illustrated.[9]

Guthrie married Warren Levine, a pilot, in 1989. He died in 2006.[10]

Motorsports career results[edit]


(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)

Winston Cup Series[edit]

American open–wheel racing results[edit]

Indy 500[edit]

Year Chassis Engine Start Finish
1976 Coyote Foyt No qualifying attempt
1977 Lightning Offy 26th 29th
1978 Wildcat DGS 15th 9th
1979 Lola Cosworth 14th 34th
1980 Lightning Cosworth Did not qualify


  1. ^ Litman, Laken. "From sleeping in her car to the Indy 500: How Janet Guthrie changed racing for women," Indy Star, 26 May 2017. Retrieved 7 Aug. 2017.
  2. ^ "Once a physicist: Janet Guthrie," Institute of Physics, n.d. Retrieved 7 Aug. 2017.
  3. ^ a b McGee, Ryan (February 20, 2013). "Janet Guthrie outraced insults to make history". ESPN W. ESPN. Archived from the original on February 24, 2013. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  4. ^ Martin, Bruce. "From Guthrie to Patrick, women have made progress at Indy 500," Sports Illustrated," 26 May 2011. Retrieved 7 Aug. 2017.
  5. ^ Guthrie, Janet, Janet Guthrie: A Life at Full Throttle, 2005, p. 382.
  6. ^ Dodds, Tracy. "THE INDIANAPOLIS 500 : Why Aren't Women Racing at Indy? Ask Guthrie," Los Angeles Times, 24 May 1987. Retrieved 7 Aug. 2017.
  7. ^ Wulf, Steve (2015-03-23). "Supersisters: Original Roster". Espn.go.com. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  8. ^ "Janet Guthrie, ’60[permanent dead link]", University of Michigan Alumni Association. 2017. Retrieved 7 Aug. 2017.
  9. ^ "Janet Guthrie," Bio at International Motor Sports Hall of Fame, 2017. Retrieved 7 Aug. 2017.
  10. ^ Litman, Laken. "From sleeping in her car to the Indy 500: How Janet Guthrie changed racing for women," Indy Star, 26 May 2017. Retrieved 7 Aug. 2017.

External links[edit]