From the Archive: Race Car Driver Janet Guthrie

Daniel Hautzinger
Race car driver Janet Guthrie.

During Women's History Month, we're opening the WTTW archives to feature clips of remarkable women – writersexecutives, athletes, and more – speaking about their work and lives.

Before Janet Guthrie qualified for and raced in the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500, no woman had ever competed in those prestigious events. Originally an aerospace engineer, she began racing after seeing some small races and deciding it looked fun, entering with her own Jaguar. She unsuccessfully attempted to qualify for the Indy 500 in 1976, a failure many drivers attributed to her gender -- but champion A.J. Foyt defended her, claiming she simply lacked a good vehicle or the funds to buy one. The next year, she qualified and finished 29th, then in 1978 she took ninth place, despite an injured wrist. In 1979, WTTW's John Callaway talked to her about that '78 race, the entrenched sexism of professional race car driving, and what it's like to speed around a track.

From the Archive
Janet Guthrie
John Callaway