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Janet Guthrie, The First Female Indianapolis 500 Driver, to be Honored On Capitol Hill May 7 at the `SEMA Salute to Women in Motorsports'

6 May 1997

Janet Guthrie, The First Female Indianapolis 500 Driver, to be Honored On Capitol Hill May 7 at the `SEMA Salute to Women in Motorsports'

        She and Others to Honored on Day of Guthrie's 20th Anniversary

    WASHINGTON D.C., May 6 -- Twenty years to the day after
driving triumphantly onto the race track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,
Janet Guthrie, the first female Indy driver, will be honored May 7 on Capitol
Hill at the "Specialty Equipment Market Association's (SEMA) Salute to Women
in Motorsports."
    On May 7, 1977, Guthrie not only made her presence known by being the
first woman to drive at Indy, she also set an Indianapolis 500 qualifying lap-
speed record.  Kay Bignotti, the mechanic who started Guthrie's engine and one
of four women licensed by USAC as a certified mechanic, among others, will be
honored as well.
    The "Salute to Women in Motorsports" will take place the morning of May 7
as part of the second annual SEMA Salute to the American Automotive
Performance & Motorsports Industry.  The ceremony will occur at a special
Congressional breakfast on Capitol Hill in the Gold Room of the Rayburn
Congressional Office Building.
    Throughout her career as a race-car driver, Guthrie experienced formidable
success, competing in a total of eleven Indy-car races.  A former pilot,
aerospace engineer and sportscar road racer, she got her big break at the top
level of the sport in 1976, when she was invited to test a car at Indy.
    That same year, Janet also became the first woman to compete in a NASCAR
Winston Cup superspeedway stock-car race.  In 1977, she was named Top Rookie
at the Daytona 500.
    "These pioneering women helped open the doors of professional motorsports
to all women, and we felt a special salute to them during our conference would
help spread the word about their extraordinary contributions," said Charles
Blum, president of SEMA.  "Janet and all of the other women being honored are
true heroes."
    SEMA is the trade association dedicated to serving the needs of the $15
billion motor vehicle, performance and accessories aftermarket since 1963.
The "Salute" welcomes representatives from all segments of the aftermarket and
motorsports industry, including SEMA members, race sanctioning bodies, car
clubs, race car drivers and celebrities and more, in order to bring to the
attention of policy makers the breadth and scope of the automotive aftermarket
    Other honorees include Linda Vaughn, the "First Lady of Auto Racing,"
Shirley Muldowney, the first female drag racer whose career and life were
documented in the 1983 film, "Heart Like a Wheel," Lyn St. James, starting her
sixth consecutive Indianapolis 500 this May, and others.
    For more information on the "SEMA Salute to Women in Motorsports" or SEMA,
contact: SEMA, 1575 S. Valley Vista Dr., P.O. Box 4910, Diamond Bar, Calif.,
91765-0910.  Phone: (909) 396-0289.  Fax: (909) 860-0184.

SOURCE  Specialty Equipment Market Association