IRL: Guthrie Honored on Capitol Hill

Guthrie Honored on Capitol Hill WASHINGTON D.C. (May 6, 1997) -- Twenty years to the day after driving triumphantly onto the race track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Janet Guthrie, the first female Indy driver, will be honored May 7 on...

Guthrie Honored on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON D.C. (May 6, 1997) -- Twenty years to the day after driving triumphantly onto the race track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Janet Guthrie, the first female Indy driver, will be honored May 7 on Capitol Hill at the "Specialty Equipment Market Association's (SEMA) Salute to Women in Motorsports."

On May 7, 1977, Guthrie not only made her presence known by being the first woman to drive at Indy, she also set an Indianapolis 500 qualifying lap-speed record. Kay Bignotti, the mechanic who started Guthrie's engine and one of four women licensed by USAC as a certified mechanic, among others, will be honored as well.

The "Salute to Women in Motorsports" will take place the morning of May 7 as part of the second annual SEMA Salute to the American Automotive Performance & Motorsports Industry. The ceremony will occur at a special Congressional breakfast on Capitol Hill in the Gold Room of the Rayburn Congressional Office Building.

Throughout her career as a race-car driver, Guthrie experienced formidable success, competing in a total of eleven Indy-car races. A former pilot, aerospace engineer and sportscar road racer, she got her big break at the top level of the sport in 1976, when she was invited to test a car at Indy.

That same year, Janet also became the first woman to compete in a NASCAR Winston Cup superspeedway stock-car race. In 1977, she was named Top Rookie at the Daytona 500.

"These pioneering women helped open the doors of professional motorsports to all women, and we felt a special salute to them during our conference would help spread the word about their extraordinary contributions," said Charles Blum, president of SEMA. "Janet and all of the other women being honored are true heroes."

SEMA is the trade association dedicated to serving the needs of the $15 billion motor vehicle, performance and accessories aftermarket since 1963. The "Salute" welcomes representatives from all segments of the aftermarket and motorsports industry, including SEMA members, race sanctioning bodies, car clubs, race car drivers and celebrities and more, in order to bring to the attention of policy makers the breadth and scope of the automotive aftermarket industry.

Other honorees include Linda Vaughn, the "First Lady of Auto Racing," Shirley Muldowney, the first female drag racer whose career and life were documented in the 1983 film, "Heart Like a Wheel," Lyn St. James, starting her sixth consecutive Indianapolis 500 this May, and others.

-------------------- Chris Poterala chrisp@irace.com http://www.irace.com

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Shirley Muldowney , Lyn St. James