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Janet Guthrie, The First Woman To Qualify For The Indy 500, To Get Her Own Feature Biopic

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Image for article titled Janet Guthrie, The First Woman To Qualify For The Indy 500, To Get Her Own Feature Biopic
Photo: Stephen Lovekin for the Women’s Sports Foundatio (Getty Images)

Janet Guthrie made history in the late 1970s when she became the first woman to attempt, and then to qualify for, the iconic Indianapolis 500. It was an era where women were still barred from the garage, which meant Guthrie had an uphill battle to fight in many ways. Now, she’s getting her own future biopic, which is rumored to star Hilary Swank, Deadline reports.

The film will be based off of Speed Girl: Janet Guthrie and the Race That Changed Sports Forever by Stephen Talty, which is in turn a gorgeous biography about Guthrie’s life and the place she carved for women in the world of motor racing.


The film is reported to come from Balcony 9 Productions, a Denver-based film company that’s known for producing short documentaries, many of which have been nominated and given awards. And if you’re not familiar with two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank, then go watch Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby right now.

“This is an incredible true story about female empowerment and going after your dreams” Deadline reports Swank saying. “When I was approached with Janet Guthrie’s story by the great team at Balcony 9, I immediately said yes. I can’t wait to bring her inspiring life to the screen.”


While Guthrie really hit the big stage with her Indy 500 debut, she had a frankly incredible career even before that. She was one of the few women to earn a degree in physics from the University of Michigan in 1960. She had a pilot’s license as a teenager. She was briefly considered to join NASA as an astronaut-in-training (but ultimately didn’t make the final cut). She lived out of her car for years while she went SCCA racing because she just loved racing that much. She’d already had a story worthy life by the time she first entered the Indy 500 at age 38—and that career still grew, briefly and furiously, after that point.

But the most important thing about her story is the fact that she unintentionally went to battle for all women everywhere, but especially in the motorsport community. I highly recommend reading her autobiography My Life at Full Throttle to hear her first-hand perspective on the backlash she encountered in both IndyCar and NASCAR.

I am, frankly, very freakin’ excited for this project and remain optimistic that Balcony 9 and Swank will do Guthrie justice.