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Tribute to the first female driver to qualify for the NASCAR Daytona 500 on this International Women’s Day


The Daytona 500 is the biggest sporting event of the NASCAR season. Among its share of star pilots, there have also been many female pilots. On this International Women’s Day, we take a look at the trailblazing women in the Great American Race.

In 1977, Janet Guthrie made history by becoming the first female driver to qualify and compete in the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500. She did so while driving for Team Lynda Ferreri and was sponsored by Kelly Girl.

A pilot who paved the way for so many people! We wish Janet Guthrie a very happy birthday today! https://t.co/UrX6UGdY2z

That same year, Guthrie was the top rookie at the Daytona 500 as she finished 9th at the Indianapolis 500 in 1978. She competed in 19 Winston Cup Series races, successfully qualifying for all 19.

Janet Guthrie was born on March 7, 1938 in Iowa City. Prior to entering the racing world, Guthrie was a pilot, flight instructor, aerospace engineer, technical writer and public representative for some of America’s top corporations.

Early in his racing career, Guthrie said:

鈥淚 got even more deeply involved in the race. Running had pretty much taken over my life. This was becoming the next big adventure.

A special happy birthday to Janet Guthrie! 馃帀She was the first woman to race in the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, helping to pave the way for other female drivers. https://t.co/Zc21CdRQ6l

In 1976, she was invited by team owner and automaker Rolla Vollstedt to test their car for the Indianapolis 500, which turned out to be a big break for her at the top level of the sport. That same year, she also became the first woman to race in the NASCAR Winston Cup Superspeedway.

After her racing career, she was an outspoken activist against sexism in NASCAR and the sport as a whole. His achievements in motorsport earned him inclusion in the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2019.


A look at Janet Guthrie’s recap of her NASCAR rookie season

Here are some of Janet Guthrie’s finishes in her first NASCAR season:

  • 路 Daytona 500: It was in 8th place with about 10 laps remaining when its engine lost two cylinders. She finished in 12th position and was the top rookie.
  • 路 Richmond 400: She qualified 13th and finished 12th.
  • Southeast 500: 11th
  • 路 Winston 500: She qualified 13th and finished 9th.
  • 路 CAM2 400: 12th qualified and finished 26th.
  • 路 Firecracker 400: Crankshaft broken on the 11th turn.
  • Nashville 420: Qualified and finished 15th.
  • 路 Coca-Cola 500: 10th qualified and finished 11th after a spin on a puncture.
  • 路 Talladega 500: Qualified 9th and in turn 1 of the first lap, the driveshaft of another car went through its windscreen. After replacing it, the engine exploded.
  • 路 Champion Spark Plug 400: Finished in the top 10 for the first time.




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