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Photo of Guthrie in the pits at the Indy 500 in 1979.

Janet Guthrie is an American professional race car driver who changed motor sports and broke the gender barrier when, in 1977, she became the first woman to qualify for and compete in the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "As far as I was concerned I wasn't a 'woman driver,' I was just a driver," said Guthrie. That same year, she was also the first female driver to compete in NASCAR's Daytona 500.

No woman had ever competed in those prestigious events before. Her fellow drivers, the media and fans were all pretty hostile towards her when she began racing but "I felt confident that once they had gained the experience of running against me, they would figure out I was what I said I was: Just another race car driver. The fact that I was a woman was completely irrelevant, and to see attitudes change was very gratifying." said Guthrie.

Janet Guthrie empowering women icon

In 1980, she was inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall Of Fame and in 2006 the International Motorsports Hall Of Fame. Her helmet and race suit can be viewed at the Smithsonian Institution in D.C. and her mark in the history of sports will live on forever.