Janet Guthrie: If Your Desire is Strong Enough, Anything is Doable

Janet Guthrie was the first woman to qualify and compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500, among many other racing firsts. But her goal wasn’t so much to be the first to do something, but, rather, to be the best.
This is original content based on research by The History Guy. Images in the Public Domain are carefully selected and provide illustration. As very few images of the actual event are available in the Public Domain, images of similar objects and events are used for illustration.
Special thanks to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum:
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All events are portrayed in historical context and for educational purposes. No images or content are primarily intended to shock and disgust. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Non censuram.
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Script by JCG
#history #thehistoryguy #Indy500

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  • We all have our crosses to bear, some do it better than others. Thank you THG, Janet Guthie indeed needs to be remembered.

    Christine ReedChristine Reed4 цагийн өмнө
  • Thank you, for a great story.

    Frank GullaFrank Gulla3 өдрийн өмнө
  • Astonishing...a made-up controversy about a woman driving in a race, a press corps obsessed with pushing a politically divisive agenda designed to create chaos, and manufactured vitriol. Shocked. I'm shocked. You need to a history of communism's political and subversion operations in the United States.

    Sindarpeacheye IsacommieSindarpeacheye Isacommie3 өдрийн өмнө
  • In 104 years only 2 drivers have ever finished 34th and until 1971 women were not permitted in the pits and garage area.

    BenderBender3 өдрийн өмнө
  • She could eat rice through a picket fence.

    Mostly SaneMostly Sane3 өдрийн өмнө
  • You have to respect anyone who perseveres against tremendous odds no matter what they're attempting to do.This woman accomplished so much in spite of all the adversity that she faced in racing and she had already done a lot even before then.

    John DavisJohn Davis4 өдрийн өмнө
  • That is a real women.Thanks Janet!

    Kevin BradyKevin Brady5 өдрийн өмнө
  • I had no idea as to her flying and her father.

    Joseph DuPontJoseph DuPont6 өдрийн өмнө
  • Was there both those years, family owned one of those lower budget teams and our garages were several down from the Bryant team. In those days there was no women’s restroom/showers in the garage area, they had to section off a part of one for Guthrie to use. She was all business and don’t think people today can appreciate the pressure that was on her. She had gaggles constantly following her everywhere. But kept focus and managed to get the most out of the equipment she had. Gutsy lady. Our car appears briefly at 7:45

    Samuel AdamsSamuel Adams6 өдрийн өмнө
  • Christina Nielsen (a two time GTD class champion in IMSA) was asked once what it was like being a female racing driver. Her reply was "The car doesn't care what's between my legs, I tell the car what to do and it does it." She's also among the small group of people to have a LEGO kit based on her with their Speed Champions Ferrari 458 GTD kit.

    Clayton DavisClayton Davis7 өдрийн өмнө
  • I note that media focus was one of biggest problems she faced.

    Draidain's FatherDraidain's Father7 өдрийн өмнө
  • Rolla vollstedt pioneered rear engined race cars !! Hmm maybe he was just pinching ideas of European racing

    SciolistSciolist7 өдрийн өмнө
  • Thank you!

    Seth ReidSeth Reid7 өдрийн өмнө
  • Maaannn I knew nothing about her until now. God Bless her! Guts!

    Chris KuennenChris Kuennen7 өдрийн өмнө
  • I find her inspiring, and I'm not even female; Amelia, too.

    Ernest AubertErnest Aubert7 өдрийн өмнө
  • 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

    Tom WargaTom Warga7 өдрийн өмнө
  • Maybe you can do a short video on the sinking of the 'Vestris' in 1928. Sadly, this event was unusual in some very significant ways and forced changes in maritime laws and procedures....

    Curtis GomesCurtis Gomes8 өдрийн өмнө
  • I've long wondered why there aren't more women in motor sports. The environment must be fairly unpleasant if capapable, competent and enthusiastic women aren't prepared to tolerate it. I also fly, and there aren't many women pilots, but there are many enthusiastic women passengers, so flying appeals to everyone.

    Gavin WardGavin Ward8 өдрийн өмнө
  • I watched. I saw. Janet had the chops!

    Scott LilleyScott Lilley8 өдрийн өмнө
  • She drove better than I would have! I vote for a "Ladies Racing Association". That will put an end to the boy's club aspect. I'll even help build engines and frames, if it gets going! Someone, anyone, help make it a reality. I'm in! 👍

    d. t.d. t.9 өдрийн өмнө
  • I remember her racing at Indy! ❤ wonder what Troy Ruttman thought of her...

    Dee-El DaweDee-El Dawe9 өдрийн өмнө
  • In the first ever stock car race Sara Christian competed, and the second ever she was joined by two other women..... your confusing media hyperbole for prejudice!

    Homo Sapiens LogicusHomo Sapiens Logicus9 өдрийн өмнө
  • Getting a degree in physics in the mid-20th century ought to have given Janet Guthrie enough exposure to "good ol' boy networks" and "you can't do THAT" for a lifetime.... What a star.

    Laura AinslieLaura Ainslie9 өдрийн өмнө
  • If her and Lynn St James had better equipment we would have had a female indy 500 winner by now. I hope Sinoma finishes in top 5 this year. When is the Lynn St James video coming?

    John BergerJohn Berger9 өдрийн өмнө
  • Amazing woman, amazing driver!

    TRLWNC1TRLWNC19 өдрийн өмнө
  • What font do you use for your titles? It’s like an Art Deco one.

    Damon TownsendDamon Townsend9 өдрийн өмнө
  • Thank you! I remember asking for this about a year or two ago. Amazing learning her racing history. And now about the first prime time season of TV?

    July MillerJuly Miller9 өдрийн өмнө
  • I remember that $45 tow-car; I helped her change a flat on it in the paddock of the old Thompson Raceway in Connecticut sometime in the later 60's -- one of my more memorable race-fan moments, and in retrospect, an encounter with history. And I remember that lovely old XK-140 and the way she drove it! A remarkable woman. And, yes, a damn fine racer!

    Donald FedosiukDonald Fedosiuk9 өдрийн өмнө
  • ... perhaps consider doing a piece on Shirley "Cha Cha" Muldowney

    Kaulbach's KaveKaulbach's Kave9 өдрийн өмнө
  • A great story well told. Indy was always insular. Jim Clark had won a F1 world championship but was still forced to pass a rookie test and wear rookie ID on the car. Janet's championship Toyota Celica has been restored and regularly appears at vintage races.

    Bruce BeauvaisBruce Beauvais9 өдрийн өмнө
  • lt's still the same way today....When it comes to women drivers...What a shame....Thanks

    steve shoemakersteve shoemaker9 өдрийн өмнө
  • Don't know how well they would go as individual episodes, but collectively you'd have a good podcast by covering the early women racers in the USA like Joan Cuneo who started racing in 1905, Sara Christian who started racing in 1949 and was in the Dayton Beach races, Carol Cox, Shirley Shahan, Ethel Mobley who also raced on Daytona Beach, and Louise Smith. While I can't readily find references right now, I also remember reading about professional women racers involved with the travelling short track race groups following WW2 who would make an interesting episode of their own - the short track racers as group would too.

    Ernest BywaterErnest Bywater9 өдрийн өмнө
  • There has never been a diecast replica car of any of Janet Guthrie's cars to this day. Buckshot Jones, yes; Janet Guthrie no. Got that?

    caribman10caribman109 өдрийн өмнө
  • Why didn't she just join the richer team that offered her a seat, instead of looking for her own sponsors?

    Mirza AhmedMirza Ahmed9 өдрийн өмнө
  • Growing up in Indianapolis the 500 has been and will be a part of my life. I remember the uproar at the time but I recall that changing over time as she proved that gender didn't have anything to do with being a good driver. Amazing what she did with a car put together on a shoestring budget. Thank you for the history lesson, much I didn't know about her.

    Jim PatrickJim Patrick10 өдрийн өмнө
  • When it comes to females who changed motorsports, I always think of Shirley "Cha Cha" Muldowney. And to a lesser degree, Jungle Pam. Because real racecars don't turn left.

    Brett MillerBrett Miller10 өдрийн өмнө
  • Thank you for doing this story. It's important.

    ecldincecldinc10 өдрийн өмнө
  • I, can't believe this story! When I was young and dumb I thought it was ridiculous that she wanted to be a racecar driver. I have so much respect for this woman. One thing she truly represented was, a better future!

    Keith JacksonKeith Jackson10 өдрийн өмнө
  • Yay, something in particular for us car gals. :) Personally I was never what you'd call a 'competitive spirit' about such things, more a 'You may not be happy if you make me prove something' type, but it was always good to see women in the motorsport world. Things changed a lot, just in my lifetime. (Of course some want to change em back lately, but we'll just see, won't we. Most of those regressive 'voices' seem to be kids who ain't secure in what *they* can do yet, but even a long time ago, for every crusty old dude that would never take you seriously or be hostile, there'd be at least one equally-crusty old dude who'd teach you anything you could absorb. ) Most of the car world's still mourning Sabine Schmitz, we lost a great personality too soon there.

    OllamhDrabOllamhDrab10 өдрийн өмнө
  • Your subject materials amaze me. History class would have caught my day dreaming mind with materials like this.

    Scott MaagScott Maag10 өдрийн өмнө
  • THG must be a racing fan as well as a history fan. I appreciate the research you do for your racing videos. I always learn a nugget that I did know or at least forgot. Thank you for all you do.

    Charles TaylorCharles Taylor10 өдрийн өмнө
  • Dear History Guy -- a chick can have as much desire as possible and she's still NOT going to win the Indy 500.

    Stan KakolStan Kakol10 өдрийн өмнө
  • Having grown up watching racing, I certainly find her remarkable. Even without her racing accomplishments, she is an impressive woman. Thank you for so beautifully highlighting her life.

    Amy GunnellsAmy Gunnells10 өдрийн өмнө
  • I actually worked with her back in the 70's We were both at Sperry Systems Management she was a very nice person, if memory serves she worked in the Pubs department. She left to concentrate on Indy that year she never returned.

    Robert SullivanRobert Sullivan10 өдрийн өмнө
  • If only the hundreds of millions in sponsorship money wasted on Danica Patrick had gone to Janet Guthrie. And Lynn St James. And Carol “Bunny” Burkett. And Shirley Muldowney.

    vr6swpvr6swp10 өдрийн өмнө
  • I have a soft spot for Stories of women who fight their way to achieve their desires. My distant Aunt was the first caretaker of Valley Forge before it became a state park. With many other women in my family standing out.

    Darth CatDarth Cat10 өдрийн өмнө
  • 1:41 "In 1964 she was rejected...because she lacked a P..." Given the earlier statement about the exclusion of women from various piloting jobs, I thought that this was going someplace completely different.

    N PN P10 өдрийн өмнө
  • She was an incredible roll model! Chase your dreams and the heck with the old boy network.

    ToolrificToolrific10 өдрийн өмнө
  • I am of such an age that I recall when a lot of this was happening. But I did not know her actual story. Compliments after the fact are nice but some respect and help while racing would have been more beneficial. Thank you Janet and sorry the male world wasn't ready for you. Thanks to THG for posting this video. I rarely comment but I do enjoy every video. Keep them coming

    Nelson BergmanNelson Bergman10 өдрийн өмнө
  • To my disapointment there are still not enough women racers. At the circuit where I regularily compete there are two young women competitors. When I see them doing it I'm so pleased I just have to smile. I think motorsport allows a real opportunity for women and men to compete without body strength being the deciding factor, you need to be fit but not a gorilla. Plus generaly women are lighter in weight giving them a slight advantage, as say compared to me, they will be a hundred pounds lighter in the same car. I say the more women in racing the better.

    Randy MorashRandy Morash10 өдрийн өмнө
  • Trenton Speedway.

    600joe600joe10 өдрийн өмнө
  • Her father was an interesting character as well. As a hobby he grew exotic tropical fruit in his yard in Miami. It was a large yard so he built a lawn mower that would go about thirty miles an hour. It also had a zero turn radius so it could mow close to his trees. In addition to this he built his house from stone that he quarried him self in his yard. The quarry left a swimming pool like hole in the yard. I don’t know if he ever turned it into an actual pool or not.

    CrockygatorCrockygator11 өдрийн өмнө
  • I must have very weak desires.

    Bob OwenBob Owen11 өдрийн өмнө
  • How about the lost colony of dare county as an episode

    Couch LandscapingCouch Landscaping11 өдрийн өмнө
  • The funny thing is that the first road trip was made by a woman and her two sons her name was Bertha Benz.

    Evil FluffEvil Fluff11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Janet Guthrie Was One Extraordinary Race Car Driver In A Male Dominant Sport. The Indy 500 And Daytona 500 In The 70’s Despite All The Obstacles She Had To Face; When Finally She Called it Quits; Which is Sad, Due To The Lack of Sponsorship. In A Sport She Loved.

    Deborah McCoyDeborah McCoy11 өдрийн өмнө
  • I don't know why the airlines back then refused women pilots, I mean it's not like pilot has to 'reverse park' an airliner ....

    Mark MarkMark Mark11 өдрийн өмнө
  • I remember the press interviewing the other NASCAR drivers when Janet raced. Nearly all said, will she be able to manage a heavy car? One driver (I think it was Richard Petty, but not sure) said when asked this question about the heavy cars, "She just has to drive the car, not carry it." A brilliant comment!

    Paul MPaul M11 өдрийн өмнө
  • My feminist wife became an Indy fan when Janet competed there.

    scott offordscott offord11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Indy and NASCAR have always been just about the money. 99% of the most talented drivers of BOTH genders will never get to compete because of lack of sponsors. For her just to be able to compete in either was a victory in itself.

    orson wellsorson wells11 өдрийн өмнө
  • I remembered the name, but not much else about her.

    Robert HeinkelRobert Heinkel11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Have you heard of the Australian Submarine AE2 that was the first Allied Submarine to force the Dardennels in WW I on the 25th April 1915 as the troops landed at Gallipoli. It is said the landings were about to be recalled due to navigation errors and the preparedness of thr Turks, when the General HQ for the Gallipoli Campzign received the message that AE2 had got through and was about to run amok in the Sea of Marmara.

    Paul MeakinPaul Meakin11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Watch a driver's eye view video of an Indy car and the way the steering wheel jerks around, then think about driving it with a broken wrist! Saw her race every year at Indy, impressive gal.

    Neil SNeil S11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Thanks for another great episode. These IMS related ones are some of your best work, its amazing how your passion for a subject can allow you to be so thorough and explain something so well. Hope for much more IRL content. #Isitmayyet?

    Fred FredFred Fred11 өдрийн өмнө
  • How about a video about Mary Patten who was 19 when she became the 1st woman sailor and so much more. thanks

    Tanya HandkinsTanya Handkins11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Gee, but how I'd like to have been the first to enter a woman at Indy!

    Vitabrick SnailslimeVitabrick Snailslime11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Please do a video on the history of timekeeping and/or the calendar

    Torahboy1Torahboy111 өдрийн өмнө
  • dear thg (and family) what about the history of wax? or tjhe history of sheet music?

    philo chapinphilo chapin11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Saw Janet Guthrie run her car at the time trials is Indianapolis. Newspapers were reporting she was slow and getting in the way of other drivers. Remember her two warm up laps and said to friend "Well, there she is". A minute later I saw the fastest damn pink racing car I have EVER seen come out of turn 2! That was the year she took 9th, in the process of chasing down A J Foyt, whom she almost beat. I believe he lent her his backup car. Later I met her at Purdue University where she was working for "Women against Drunk Driving". I still remember her crystal clear eyes, obviously the eyes of a race driver. I hope she is doing well and thank her for the memories.

    Craig GoodwinCraig Goodwin11 өдрийн өмнө
  • The title quote seems a bit optimistic and a bit sad, given how things turned out for her. But her sacrifice, and her ability, eventually made it possible for others to succeed.

    buzbuz33 -buzbuz33 -11 өдрийн өмнө
  • yep i put in 35 years as a ASE certified repair tech and southern calif. only female smog tech for 15 of those But i had to prove it Everyday to those young and old in that good ol boys network. my lic.#and i retired in 2015 i grind my teeth everytime a story like This again shows we have still a way to go before we get to our full potential. ps. i loved it though still thank you

    Catherine A. HarbinCatherine A. Harbin11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Don't care about the politics until it suddenly affects you.

    shingshongshamalamashingshongshamalama11 өдрийн өмнө
  • A tip o' the hat to Janet, who set out to be a serious competitor, would have been pretty competitive with proper sponsorship. Mr. Hulman did not approve, and that probably hurt her sponsorship chances more than anything. If she had become a loud, controversial figure like some, things might have been different, but she stayed true to her self, and for that she gets my deepest respect.

    Don OlbersDon Olbers11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Is that RCMP hat new?

    Darrin RameyDarrin Ramey11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Thanks

    Mark BeeunasMark Beeunas11 өдрийн өмнө
  • On the other side of the pond (if you are a care geek).Check out Michelle Mouton and Pat Moss. You will then have THREE women from overlapping eras who all kicked in the door!

    Joe DavenportJoe Davenport11 өдрийн өмнө
  • I was 22 years old when I first saw her at Indy, and I was immediately an admirer. She overcame not only funding troubles but a lot of prejudice. I was an A.J. Foyt fan at the time, and I really appreciated his show of support.

    llanitedavellanitedave11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Seems like she and Shirley Muldowny had a lot in common. One night at a race a commentater asked her “What’s a pretty little lady like you doing in a place like this?” Muldowny replied “Winning.” Got to love these women who only accept success.

    greg rainesgreg raines11 өдрийн өмнө
    • @Data Sailor I would love to see a movie like that!

      Robert TellesRobert Telles4 өдрийн өмнө
    • Then there’s Jungle Pam for an entirely different reason. I wonder if they’ll ever make a movie about her career.

      Data SailorData Sailor4 өдрийн өмнө
    • @Robert Telles Sounds...interesting.

      greg rainesgreg raines9 өдрийн өмнө
    • Another woman to break the gender barrier was Shirley Shahan, known as the " Drag-On-Lady". She drag raced in the 60's iirc. Not quite as famous as the other Shirley, but she won her fair share of races. Shirley was also my mothers name! And don't call me Shirley.

      61 Rampy61 Rampy9 өдрийн өмнө
    • Now that would be a good subject for the history guy. Sherly Muldowney Or any of the female drivers in the NHRA Maybe even why the only non military plane alowed to fly on 9- 11 -2011 Was owned by a drag racer .

      Robert TellesRobert Telles10 өдрийн өмнө
  • What happened the first time that _two_ women (Lyn St James and Sarah Fisher) qualified for the Indy 500, in 2000? .... Perhaps that is also history that deserves to be remembered, but it is certainly history that you couldn't make up! :)

    PulaskiPulaski11 өдрийн өмнө
  • As a father of 2 girls, my hats off the Janet Guthrie, Shirley Muldowney, and all of the little girls who grew up to follow their dreams in the face of such resistance. It's a lesson we can all respect and learn from.

    Poncho67Poncho6711 өдрийн өмнө
  • 👍

    RON STILLRON STILL11 өдрийн өмнө
  • I've raced in SCCA events. She did far better than me. I do wish real talent was all that counted in auto racing.

    victor mirandavictor miranda11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Illegitimate Joe's goal these days is just to make it up stairs.

    Commies Suck BallsCommies Suck Balls11 өдрийн өмнө
  • I'm willing to bet if you do the Lynn St. James story THG, it wouldn't be very different from Janet's. Racing is a bug that once it gets into you never goes away

    Steven BradfordSteven Bradford11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Thank you from a racing fan, H.G! Ms. Guthrie has long been under-acknowledged for her talent and desire to drive.

    Richard MourdockRichard Mourdock11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Something for the young people, pioneers are never crusaders

    Anibal PerezAnibal Perez11 өдрийн өмнө
  • I thoroughly enjoyed this, and I learned something. Thanks.

    Christopher SeivardChristopher Seivard11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Just wanted to mention that the podcast is fantastic, I really like the 'behind the scenes' discussions after each story. Keep it up guys!

    BokBok11 өдрийн өмнө
  • I found this very interesting because I was in attendance at the 1977 and 1978 Indianapolis 500 races.

    texdon58texdon5811 өдрийн өмнө
  • This woman was similar age to my mother. She was obviously very strong and Danica Patrick and other women drivers owe a lot to her! Good going Janet! You deserve respect!!!

    TAP001TAP00111 өдрийн өмнө
  • Great female drivers? Check out Michelle Mouton!

    MrLargePigMrLargePig11 өдрийн өмнө
  • With all those male racing figures paying tribute to her *after the fact* it makes you wonder...

    puirYorickpuirYorick11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Loved this one as both nerd and motorhead. She was talented beyond her opportunities. 6th in her equipment would have been dominating wins in top tier cars.

    gprich82gprich8211 өдрийн өмнө
  • If ya ain't first, yer last!

    Bitchin SpectreBitchin Spectre11 өдрийн өмнө
  • I advised Mrpete222 a/k/a Tubalcain not to make videos about certain emotion-yanking subjects (e.g. the Radium Girls, some famous mine collapse, etc.) but rather to leave those to you as you are good at making people cry. You proved that to my own satisfaction again, with this video. Thank you. History deserves to be cried over, too.

    jjbjjb11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Yes, and there was one other woman racing driver of high achievement in those same years and it was Shirley Muldowney.

    dehoe discdehoe disc11 өдрийн өмнө
    • @Data Sailor I met Shirley at Carlsbad Raceway in 1974 as I was running my 62 Chev II w/built 327 in the 12s bracket racing, and she was making practice runs in her rail, and she made me feel like I was another racer, and that was cool.

      dehoe discdehoe disc3 өдрийн өмнө
    • She actually won the NHRA Top Fuel championship. Check out her bio-pic “Heart Like a Wheel” starring Bonnie Belinda.

      Data SailorData Sailor4 өдрийн өмнө
  • LOVE THIS! I'm a Janet Guthrie fan and a racing fan, having watched her race many times. THANK YOU for highlighting this great human being.

    LM LoganLM Logan11 өдрийн өмнө
  • The subtitle is reminiscent of Theodore Herzl's comment on the possibility of re-establishing Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel: Im tirtzu, ayn zo aggada/If you want it, it's no fairy tale.

    Bob RabinoffBob Rabinoff11 өдрийн өмнө
  • When I was a kid, the SoCal dragstrips put out radio ads all during racing season. We didn't care that Shirley Muldowney was a woman, just that she was a top racer, whose name we often heard in the ads.

    SoloPilot6SoloPilot611 өдрийн өмнө
  • The "Good ol' boy Network" still exists, especially in the South.

    Paul DrakePaul Drake11 өдрийн өмнө