I had planned to write a little story about women and racing and Kyle Petty prompted me to fire off a quick story. FYI – Kyle, the 50’s are calling and they want you back! Wow!
I digress… I wanted to thank two pioneers in racing who have made it possible for the women racers of today to move forward. They are Janet Guthrie and Lyn Saint James.
We can first thank Janet Guthrie, who broke the mold and cleared the air and did it with style and grace. Janet was a pioneer of sorts, well educated (aerospace engineer), understood aerodynamics and yes, had the guts to drive a very dangerous Indy Car at high speeds. The first generation ground effect cars were extremely unforgiving, with injury always looming. She also competed in NASCAR including races at Daytona and Bristol.
Lyn Saint James was unafraid to strap in and go flying, as she did when setting several closed course speed records. She also won her class at the 24 Hour Dayton Rolex, as well as winning her class at Sebring. Lyn has been in seven Indy 500 races, was a rookie of the year at Indy, raced at Le Mans, and continues to promote women in racing with the Complete Driver Academy and Project Podium. Several women can thank Lynn for giving them the need support to get rolling.
I can’t imagine the chatter around Gasoline Ally when Janet and Lyn appeared on the scene and to think that both of these women handled the pressure with grace and dignity. It is nice to see that the Indy Car has embraced the women racers and after all, don’t women make up about 50% of the population? Thank you Lyn Saint James and Janet Guthrie for paving the way for women racers and allowing those who came after you to be judged on their driving, not on their marketability.
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