Class of 2006
Janet Guthrie is the first woman ever to compete in the Indianapolis 500 (May 1977) and the Daytona 500 (February 1977.) She finished 9th in the 1978 Indianapolis 500 with a team she formed, owned and managed herself. This remained the highest finish by a woman in the Indianapolis 500 until 2005.
Guthrie twice set fastest time of day at Indianapolis (May 7 and May 22, 1977.) Her Indy-car career totaled 11 races spread over five years, none with a high-ranked team. Her best Indy-car finish (5th, Milwaukee, 1979) and best qualifying position (4th, Pocono 500 Triple Crown, 1979) were not bettered by a woman until more than twenty years later. In NASCAR Winston Cup (now Nextel Cup) stock car racing, Guthrie finished as Top Rookie in the Daytona 500 and in four other Winston Cup races in 1977.
She led the Winston Cup race at Ontario, Cal., in 1977. Her top Winston Cup finish (6th, Bristol, 1977) and qualifying positions (9th at Talladega and at Bristol, 1977) remain the best by a woman in the modern (superspeedway) era. She competed in 33 Winston Cup races spread over five years.
Prior to Indianapolis, Guthrie had 13 years of experience in sports car racing, including First Under-2-Liter Prototype (1970) and First GT6 (1967) in the Sebring 12-Hour race. She was a pilot and flight instructor and an aerospace engineer. Her helmet and driver’s suit are in the Smithsonian Institution. She is a charter member of the Women’s Sports Foundation International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Her book on her racing adventures, “Janet Guthrie: A Life at Full Throttle” (Sport Classic Books, May 2005) was published to critical acclaim.