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Hilary Swank to play racing legend Janet Guthrie in feature film

Janet Guthrie sits down with Kyle Petty to share anecdotes from her upbringing in Iowa, her early love of aviation, her time studying at the University of Michigan, and to discuss how she broke barriers in motorsports.

The trail-blazing story of Janet Guthrie is making its way to the silver screen under the watch of Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank.

Deadline reports that Swank will play the racing pioneer in a feature film that she will also produce in partnership with Balcony 9 Productions. The film is being adapted from author Stephan Talty’s 2017 book Speed Girl.

MORE: Where Are They Now? Catching up with Janet Guthrie (May 2020)

Guthrie, who turned 83 in March, was the first woman to qualify and compete in both the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500.

She accomplished both feats in 1977 and became a role model for generations of female competitors to follow.

Outside of racing, Guthrie was a pilot, flight instructor and aerospace engineer. In 1964, she applied for and made it through the first round of eliminations for NASA’s first-ever Scientist-Astronaut program.

Premiere Of Universal Pictures' "The Hunt" - Arrivals

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 09: Hilary Swank attends the Premiere Of Universal Pictures’ “The Hunt” at ArcLight Hollywood on March 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/FilmMagic)


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

“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.”

Guthrie made 33 starts in the NASCAR Cup Series between 1976-80. She earned five top-10 finishes with a career best of sixth in the August 1977 race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

However, she is most famous for her exploits in the Indianapolis 500, which she competed in from 1977-79.

Her ninth-place finish in 1978 was the best for a female driver at the 500 until Danica Patrick finished fourth in 2005.

Guthrie’s 1978 run was accomplished with a fractured wrist sustained in a charity tennis tournament two days before the race. Hiding her injury from track officials, Guthrie drove the race with a cast.