Oscar Winner Hilary Swank to Play Former NASCAR Driver Janet Guthrie in Upcoming Movie

Published 05/08/2021, 3:00 PM EDT
Apr 25, 2021; Talladega, Alabama, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski (2) takes the lead from NASCAR Cup Series driver Matt DiBenedetto (21) during the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports


In NASCAR circles, Janet Guthrie is regarded as a trailblazer for women in racing. The 83-year-old’s legend grew after she became the first woman to qualify and compete in the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, which occurred in the 1977 NASCAR and IndyCar seasons. Owing to this, Guthrie set the benchmark for several female prospective NASCAR and IndyCar drivers.

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Now, her life and career are going to be immortalized on the silver screen. As per reports, Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank is playing the lead role in the feature film.

According to Deadline, Swank will also produce the film in partnership with Balcony 9 Productions. It is also worth noting that the film is an adaptation of Stephan Talty’s 2017 book Speed Girl.

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“This is an incredible true story about female empowerment and going after your dreams,” Swank said. “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.”

Get to know former NASCAR driver Janet Guthrie

Away from the race track, Guthrie worked as a pilot, flight instructor, and aerospace engineer. It is also worth mentioning that she even applied for NASA’s first-ever Scientist-Astronaut program in 1964. The best part was that she managed to make it through the first round of eliminations.

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In her NASCAR career, Guthrie made 33 starts in the Cup Series between 1976-80. During her tenure, she finished in the Top 10 on five occasions with a career-best of sixth in 1977. The driver managed to achieve that impressive feat at the Bristol Motor Speedway.

She is well known for her IndyCar career, particularly at the Indianapolis 500. During her three attempts in the iconic race, her ninth-place finish in 1978 was a career-best. That record stood for a long time until Danica Patrick finished fourth in 2005. To make matters even more incredible, she competed with a fractured wrist sustained in a charity tennis tournament.

For the moment, Guthrie’s legacy lives on in the form of a few female NASCAR stars. They include, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Natalie Decker, Hailie Deegan and Toni Breidinger, among several others. Obviously, there may be more waiting in the wings, but Guthrie will be proud that others are building on the foundations that she set.

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Dhruv George

11656 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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