Book Review: A Life at Full Throttle by Janet Guthrie

Two decades in the making, the remarkable story of one of racing’s most remarkable figures is now ready to be told.

There has never been a race car driver like Janet Guthrie. Born in Iowa and raised in Florida, the conventional path through life never interested her. She soloed for the first time in an airplane at 16 on the way to becoming a pilot, a flight instructor, and an aerospace engineer. Along the way, there were 13 years spent campaigning her own sports cars at tracks around North America, twice winning her class in the famed Sebring 12-Hour Race.

All this was preamble to 1976, when car builder Rolla Vollstedt invited her to test a car for the Indianapolis 500. Later that year, she became the first woman to compete in a NASCAR Winston Cup (now Nextel Cup) superspeedway race. In 1977, she became the first woman to qualify and compete in the Indianapolis 500. That year, she also was the first woman to compete at the Daytona 500, where she earned Top Rookie honors.

Janet is the only woman to lead a Nextel Cup race. Her best Indy Car finish (fifth at Milwaukee in 1979) and best qualifying position (fourth at the Pocono Triple Crown 500 in 1979) were not bettered by a woman for more than 20 years. Her ninth-place finish in the 1978 Indianapolis 500, driving for a team she formed, owned, and managed herself, remains the only top-10 finish by a woman in that race.

In Janet Guthrie: A Life at Full Throttle, Janet eloquently recounts the barriers she overcame on her way to the highest level of racing in the 1970s, a sport fueled as much by testosterone as gasoline, recalling the isolation and frustration as well as the joy and exhilaration that were part of her journey.

SPORTClassic Books will publish Janet Guthrie: A Life at Full Throttle in April. As the publication date approaches, Janet will be available for print, radio, and television interviews.

To see more titles from SPORTClassic Books, please visit For more information about Janet, please visit



Nika has had a love for cars and racing since childhood. A regional racing license holder she has been involved with the industry, working with racers, teams, journalists and automobile manufacturers in sponsorship solicitation, logistics, hospitality, road show and communication program implementation.