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Janet Guthrie

Janet Guthrie earned a pilot's license at the age of 17. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1960, and began to work as a development engineer for an aviation company. In 1962, her interest in sports car racing began, and the following year she began to race regularly. From 1966 to 1971, she was a member of an all-woman racing team. Six years later, she was ready to take on the men in the Indianapolis 500.

 


Text of Donation Letter

Dear Mr. Scheele:

It was a pleasure, and honor, and a thrill to present my driver's suit and helmet to the Smithsonian last week. As I promised, here are the specifics.

Both the driver's suit and the helmet are the actual ones that I wore during the Indianapolis 500 of May 28, 1978, in which I finished ninth. Neither was worn in any race thereafter, and (except for cleaning and the removal of a microphone from the helmet)--are exactly as used.

The driver's suit is made to measure of Nomex, a flame-resistant fiber, by Hinchman of Indianapolis. The helmet is a Bell Star with Nomex liner; this version of the Star is made especially for Unites States Auto Club Championship racing.

Other items worn included full-length Nomex long johns, Nomex socks, Nomex balaclava or head sock, and racing shoes of Nomex and leather (these unfortunately have been lost or I would have given them also).

I certainly enjoyed meeting you and your associates, and hope to see you again when a visit allows a little more time.

Sincerely,
Janet Guthrie

 

Related Images

Indianapolis 500 official qualifying photo, May 20, 1978
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Indianapolis 500 official qualifying photo, May 20, 1978
Fire-resistant Nomex liner inside Janet Guthrie's racing helmet
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Fire-resistant Nomex liner inside Janet Guthrie's racing helmet
Flanked by Museum curators Carl H. Scheele and Ellen Roney Hughes, Janet Guthrie donates her racing suit and helmet in 1979.
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Flanked by Museum curators Carl H. Scheele and Ellen Roney Hughes, Janet Guthrie donates her racing suit and helmet in 1979.


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