Janet Guthrie was the first woman to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. She placed ninth in 1978, but that wasn’t enough to sustain a lifetime career in racing. The documentary “Qualified” looks at Guthrie’s career, and how she was forced out of the sport because of the lack of sponsors for a woman.
It screens Saturday as a part of the Wheeler Opera House’s Aspen Mountain Film Fest.
Reporter Christin Kay spoke with Guthrie about the roadblocks for female drivers. Guthrie caught the bug for car racing in the 1960s. After thirteen years, she was racing in the Indianapolis 500 with her own team.
Her ninth-place finish in the 1978 Indy 500 stood as the highest by a woman until Danica Patrick finished fourth in 2005. But she almost wasn’t able to race because of the trouble of finding sponsors for a female driver, and was forced into an early retirment in 1983.
Guthrie said that she didn’t seek the role of a feminist trailblazer, but came to see it as her responsibility.