Janet Guthrie inducted in 2019
Janet Guthrie is the first woman to qualify and compete in the Indy 500 and Daytona 500. Guthrie made the move from engineer to racecar driver in 1963 when her attempt to become one of the first scientist-astronauts was rejected. Guthrie faced backlash in the racing community but she didn’t let it stop her from reaching her goal. Guthrie has more than 47 races under her belt and has been inducted into the Motorsports and Sports Car Club of America Hall of Fame. Her racing career began in a Jaguar XK 120 for which she built the engine. She’s even reported to have slept in it overnight. You can see her helmet and race suit at the Smithsonian Institution.
Bertha Benz: Inducted in 2016
Karl Benz patented his historic Motorwagen in 1885 but struggled to market his 3-wheeled vehicle to the public. On August 5, 1888, Bertha Benz, Karl’s wife, took the Motorwagen and headed on a 60-mile-long ride to visit her mother. That ride would be the first long distance trek ever made by a vehicle. Benz turned heads as she drove by the townspeople, proving the power of the Motorwagen.
Shirley Muldowney: Inducted in 2005
In 1973 the Michigan native became the first woman licensed to drive a top fuel dragster. Muldowney faced resistance from others that believed women should not be on the track. Muldowney went on to win 3 NHRA World Championships, 1 IHRA Championship, and 18 career NHRA victories.
“NHRA fought me every inch of the way, but when they saw how a girl could fill the stands; they saw I was good for the sport.” Shirley Muldowney
Denise McCluggage: Inducted in 2001
The first journalist to be inducted, McCluggage found her passion on the track amid the rise of amateur road racing. Female reporters were not allowed in the pits, so Denise had to participate as a racecar driver to report on the sport. Because of her passion, participatory sports journalism was born. McCluggage began competing as a professional racecar driver in the mid-50s and won multiple races.
Alice Ramsey: Inducted in 2000
The first woman to be inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame. In 1909 Ramsey took a Maxwell Touring car and gathered 3 companions and embarked on a 3,800-mile-long drive from New York City to San Francisco. The trip made her the first woman to drive a vehicle across the U.S. You can read about Ramsey’s adventures in her book Veil, Duster and Tire Iron.
Who should be inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame next?