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Monday, July 9, 2018

SPEED GIRL: JANET GUTHRIE and the RACE that CHANGED SPORTS FOREVER (kindle) by Stephen Talty



Published by Amazon Publishing in 2017.

Janet Guthrie becomes the first woman to qualify
for the Indy 500 in 1977.
Every racing fan has heard of Danica Patrick. She raced successfully for seven years in IndyCar, raced in 8 Indy 500s (with 6 top ten finishes) and 7 years in NASCAR (with less success). Long before Danica there was Janet Guthrie - a true pioneer in motorsports.

This short kindle book puts Guthrie's achievement in context in two ways. First, it details how truly startling it was to the drivers at the top levels of NASCAR and IndyCar for a woman to show up and try to add a little diversity to the field. Drivers that I always looked up to, like Richard Petty, said startlingly sexist comments about Guthrie.

The second way the book puts Guthrie's achievement in context is the more important one.  The author, Stephan Talty, describes how Guthrie worked her way up the ranks, tore apart engines, suspensions and body work and worked on her cars in her spare time as she gave up her personal life to go faster and faster in any car she could get her hands on. As a racing fan, this is the same story I have heard over and over again - which means she was what she always wanted to be - a racer. Not a fluke, not a curiosity - a racer.

I am a fan of the Indy 500. I've been to 32 straight Indy 500s and when I was 11 years old I got an autograph of Janet Guthrie in 1980 at a qualification day or practice for the Indy 500. Turns out that that was her last attempt to make the Indy 500 due to a lack of funding. Sponsors didn't know what to do with her and when there is no money, there is no car. There are times in a book like this that the truth is ugly, but it was good to read about the big names of yesteryear again, such as Foyt, Andretti and even Dick Simon.

The Kindle version of this book is enhanced with video built right into the page. It does little to advance the story, but it is fun. There is also an audiobook version of the book. They can be found on Amazon.com here: SPEED GIRL: JANET GUTHRIE and the RACE that CHANGED SPORTS FOREVER.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.


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