Janet Guthrie (born March 7, 1938, in Iowa City, Iowa) is a retired professional race car driver and the first woman to qualify and compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500.
Guthrie was originally an aerospace engineer and after graduating from the University of Michigan, she worked with Republic Aviation. She began racing in 1963 on the SCCA circuit in a Jaguar XK140 and by 1972, she was racing on a full-time basis. Her sportscar racing career included two class wins in the famed 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race.
In the 1976 World 600, Guthrie finished 15th, becoming the first woman to compete in a NASCAR Winston Cup superspeedway race. Guthrie would go on to compete in four more races that season. The following season, she competed in her first Daytona 500, finishing 12th when her car's engine blew two cylinders with ten laps to go. For the race, though, she still earned the honor of Top Rookie. Overall, Guthrie went on to compete in 33 races in NASCAR over four seasons. Her highest finish, sixth place at Bristol in 1977, is the best finish by a woman in a top-tier NASCAR race, now currently tied with Danica Patrick in 2014. Guthrie qualified for and competed in the 1977 Indianapolis 500, in a car entered by Rolla Vollstedt, but finished 29th with engine troubles. She would compete in two more Indy 500s, finishing ninth in the 1978 race while driving with a fractured wrist (injured in a charity tennis event two days earlier) she hid from race officials. Overall, she competed in 11 Indy car events with a best finish of fifth. During her unsuccessful bid to qualify for the 1976 race, many of the drivers in the male-dominated sport stated that the reason she did not qualify was mainly due to her gender. These comments angered then three-time champion A. J. Foyt to the point he lent Guthrie a back-up car to conduct a shake-down test. Her top practice lap in Foyt's car would have been adequate to qualify for the field. She was unable to obtain funding through corporate sponsorship, and was forced into retirement.