Janet Guthrie, first female Indy 500 driver, born - Mar 07, 1938 - HISTORY.com

On this day in 1938, Janet Guthrie, the first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 races, is born in Iowa City, Iowa.

Guthrie was raised in Florida and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1960 with a degree in physics. After college, she worked as an aerospace engineer; however, by the early 1970s, her interest in sports car racing led her to devote herself full-time to the sport. In 1976, she was the first woman to compete in a National Association of Stock Car Racing (NASCAR) Winston Cup superspeedway race. The following year, she broke the gender barrier again, becoming the first female driver in the Daytona 500, where she finished in 12th place and earned Top Rookie honors. Known today as the “Super Bowl of stock car racing,” the 200-lap, 500-race first was held in Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1959.
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