Indiana State University Newsroom

First woman to race in Indy 500, Daytona 500 races to speak at Indiana State

April 11, 2011

The first woman to qualify and compete in the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500 will speak at Indiana State University later this month.

Racing veteran Janet Guthrie will speak in the auditorium of the Bayh College of Education on April 28 at 7 p.m. The speech is free and open to the public. Guthrie wrote "Life at Full Throttle," an autobiography chronicling her experiences as a racer in an era that included the 1970s and 1980s. Guthrie was successful in a sport dominated by men, said Joyce Young, director of the motorsports studies program at ISU.

"Certainly racing is still obviously more male than female," Young said, "but the opportunities that are made available now to women in racing are certainly not the opportunities made to Janet Guthrie in the 1970s."

While people might not have considered the era to be an intimidating time in racing for women, spectators were sometimes hostile to Guthrie, Young said. There were times when the racer feared for her safety, Young added.

Young and Lisa Phillips, ISU assistant professor of history, are co-teaching a class about the history of racing combined with 20th century American history. They created the class to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first running of the Indianapolis 500. The class has read Guthrie's autobiography.

"It's considered to be one of the best sports autobiographies that exist," Young said, "and it's certainly a well -written book."

More information about Janet Guthrie can be found at her official website,

Contact: Joyce Young, director of motorsports studies program, Scott College of Business, Indiana State University, 812-237-2000 or

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or