Janet GuthrieAuto Racer
Born: 7 March 1938
Birthplace: Iowa City, Iowa
Best known as: The first woman to drive in the Indy 500
Janet Guthrie was the first woman ever to drive in the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 auto races. Guthrie graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor's degree in physics in 1960. A bit of a daredevil, she began racing Jaguars while working as an aerospace engineer in the 1960s. By the 1970s she was in racing full time, and she caught the eye of owner Rolla Vollstedt, who put her behind the wheel of a car for the 1977 running of the Indy 500, then the most prestigious event in American auto racing. Mechanical problems ended her race on lap 27, but Guthrie returned to Indy in 1978 and finished in ninth place. She also drove a stock car in the 1977 Daytona 500, finishing as the top rookie in 12th place. Guthrie stopped driving race cars in 1983. Her autobiography, Janet Guthrie: A Life at Full Throttle, was published in 2005.
Extra credit: The date of Guthrie's first Indy 500 was 29 May 1977... Guthrie also raced in the 1979 Indy 500, finishing 34th... Guthrie's ninth-place finish in 1978 was the highest for a woman at the Indy 500 until 2005, when rookie Danica Patrick placed fourth... According to her official site, Guthrie "attended Miss Harris' Florida School for Girls for all but one of her elementary through high-school years."
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