Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 27, 1976 · Page 67
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 67

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 27, 1976
Page 67
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Page 67 article text (OCR)

8F--June 27. 1976 Sunday Cazetle-Mail Crwsrlejfon, W«t Virginia Guthrie Will Be First Woman To Drive in 500-Mile Race -APWirepholo Janet Guthrie Inspects Car After Practice Run She'll Compete in Schaefer 500 Today at Mount Pocono, Pa. MOUNT POCONO. Pa. (AP) - A lady in a helmet is painted on Janet Guthrie's car. She looks beyond the past races and the races ah n ad and sees the track that Janet must drive. The lady is Athena, goddess of war, arts and intellect. And. says Janet Guthrie, the simple white profile on the hot blue engine cowl is her symbol of "resolute courage." A righteous patronness for a woman racing driver who also loves the grace of ballet, the discipline of physics, the exhuber- ance of a rose. This Sunday will test Janet Guthrie and her balky racing machine as she becomes the first woman to run in a 500- mile championship auto race, the Schaefer 500. "Very little in civilized existence requires all your mental, emotional and physical energy. Racing does," says Janet Guthrie, slowly sipping a beer and con- ·templating her long blue car. l: You use everything you've got in racing. It takes finesse and delicate concentration," says the tall, slender driver gesturing with long, delicate fingers.. There's a quiet intensity, a directness, as she says, "I am a driver. I love it. ! think I'm pretty good. "When you've run a good race e v e r y t h i n g in life is better, sweeter, clearer." She smiles, knowing the thrill and knowing well its cost. "Racing enhances everything, but it substitutes for nothing." Victories Impressive Physicist, pilot, would-be astronaut, Janet has been racing cars for 13 years. Her victories and performance have been impressive. This year the 38-year-old driver entered the toughest, most competitive, male- dominated field of championship auto racing. The cars, noisy, gaudy metallic insects, swallow their tiny humanoid drivers in a fusion of man and machine that is the stuff of hero worship. Janet was the first woman to enter the Indianapolis 500, but failed to qualify because of car trouble. Veteran driver A.J. Foyt loaned her his car, and she proved she could qualify. She is under contract to car designer- owner Rolla Vollstedt of Portland, Ore., through next year's Indianapolis 500 and her major goal is funding and sponsorship. Much of the to-do over being a woman d r i v e r is personally embarassing, she says, and she rejects the woman driver label. "We're all drivers here. I'm a driver who happens to be a woman," she says. "There is no reason, physical, emotional or psychological, that a woman cannot drive a car as well as a man. And when men don't feel ashamed of being beaten by a woman, we will have come a long way." One bitter driver whom she passed on a track said later: "I was d e t e r m i n e d the bitch wasn't going to pass me." Janet said: "I was determined the bitch would." Snide Remarks Although she is increasingly accepted, there are grumbles from a few male drivers. Snide remarks. Not too surprising in a world where women once were barred from the pit area, where it was once thought bad luck would follow if a woman touched or sat in a ear before a race. Janet hasn't come up the ladder the way they did. they say. She hasn't had their experience in championship cars. She's trying to prove something. She's loo old. She's had breaks, they claim. All of that she rejects, noting that other drivers are her age or older, and saying: "It's an absurd notion that a 38-year-old woman is over the hill." She doesn't consider herself a feminist. "I'm not political,'' she says, "but I do credit the women's movement for creating the atmosphere which made my ride possible." Reared in Miami, Janet Guthrie is the oldest of five children of an airline pilot. Although they're glad she's doing well, her parents really don't like her racing and don't like to watch her race, she says. She holds a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Michigan. She has a commercial pilot's license with 400 hours in 23 aircraft types. She was one of four women who passed the first tests for NASA's scientist-astronaut program but finally was eliminated because she lacked a doctorate. She worked in the aerospace industry as experiment coordinator on an orbiting solar observatory. Eventually racing demolished her career in physics. She also teaches safe driving for Toyota. There are no regrets, but the road hasn't been easy, says Janet, "and I can't begin to tell you what the psychological cost has been. Love Racing "I haven't led a civilized existence in the last four years," she says, "but I love racing and get a lot out of it." But there's no time to have friends over for dinner, no time for gourmet cooking, no time to attend the ballet or listen to mu- sic, no time for picnics, little money for clothes. "I know what it's like to lie under a car for 24 hours, to spend all night in a grubby shop where you can hear the rats running around. And you spend most of your nights like that. " Y o u ' r e forever b e h i n d the 8- b a l l , you're trying to keep a voluntary crew together." She remembers leaving work on Friday, hitching her car, an old Jaguar XK-120. to an old station wagon, driving all night, working on the car, racing, loading up. driving all night and returning Monday morning. CHARLIE KING . MANAGER. CHARUSTflH MAC McMILUON MANAGER-MONTGOMERY KING SIZE JOE LE ROSE . SUIBJNS Whether it's to reduce a lot of "Small" Monthly Payments, a need For New Furniture, Home Improvements, Or Any Worthwhile Reason, see Charlie King or "Mac" McMillion or Joe LeRose For A Helping Hand. Capital OPEN EVENINGS BY APPOINTMENT THREE CONVENIENT LOCATIONS 611 LEE STREET 319 FERRY STREET 87 MAIN STREET CHAS. 343-4801 MONTGOMERY 442-5111 ST. ALBANS 727-2966 SUMMER DODGE TRUCK SALE BIG, BIG, YEAR-ENO DISCOUNTS TOPPER SPECIAL FIBERGLASS, TOPPER-$480 Value With this D-100 DODGE CUSTOM PICK UP FUtLY 'EQUIPPED: AUTOMATIC TRANS., POWER BRAKES, POWER STEERING, ETC. 1976 DODGE as low as Pius Dealer Prep, and Freight 4 WHEEL DRIVES 4 SPEEDS AUTOMATICS IN STOCK POWER WAGON WITH 4 WHEEL DRIVE 4 WHEEL DRIVE RAM CHARGERS TRADESMAN VAN Now In Stock DODGE COLTS 10 NOW IN STOCK At Year End Prices SPORTSMAN WAGON 50 In Stock 5 Passenger to 15 Passeng er Last year, and the year before-- the Dodge Sportsman outsold all American-built competition! We Dodge Boys are planning to do it ogoin. Sportsman has the looks, the largest choice of models, electronic ignition, front disc brakes--and our terrific Dodge Boys'Deal. 1 TON to 3 TON 6 IN STOCK Vans. Stakes; Ready For The Road DODGE D-500 D-600 SALE PRICED! SAVE UP TO $2000. ON THESE 19 76 WON A COS $ 1000 OFF PATRICK PLAZA DODGE DODGE PATRICK STREET PLAZA-PHONE 343-5623 BOYS HOURS: Service 8 to 5-SALES EVE. TILL 9, SUN. TILL 6 NEW SHIPMENT DODGE ASPEN 130 IN STOCK

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