Dani Ben-Ari
The Driving Range

Academy Award winner Hilary Swank has been slated to portray legendary racer Janet Guthrie in a new biopic “Speed Girl.” The film, which has yet to begin production, is based on the book of the same name by Stephan Taltry.

Although Guthrie failed to qualify in her first Indy 500 attempt in 1976, she went on to compete in the race the following three years, finishing a personal best in 9th place in 1978, before coming in 5th at the Bettenhausen 200 in Milwaukee a year later. Meanwhile, Guthrie’s highest qualifying was 4th on the grid at the Pocono 500 that same year, just behind AJ Foyt, Danny Ongais and Johnny Parsons.

Born in Iowa City IN March 7, 1938, Janet Guthrie grew up in Florida where both her parents were pilots. She herself, earned her own pilot’s license at the age of 17. She then went on to graduate from the University of Michigan with a degree in Physics in 1960. Originally an aerospace engineer, Guthrie ended up learning to “fly” on land behind the wheel of a race car in 1963, when she began competing in SCCA races at age 25 driving a Jaguar XK140. She later won in her class at two Sebring 12 Hours, in 1967 and 1970, before driving in two Trans-Am races with a high-finish of fourth overall in Mexico City in 1978 in a Porsche 935. She also qualified and participated in 33 NASCAR races from 1976 to 1978, with two more in 1980. She finished in the Top 12 ten times in Cup, with a best of 6th place in 1977. Guthrie was also the first woman ever to compete in the Daytona 500 , where she tallied a 12th place finish in 1977 and 11th place in 1980.

“Janet Guthrie was a fighter who wouldn’t let anything stand in the way of her dreams,” stated Joel David Moore. “Her excellence in the face of sexism, hardship, and sabotage resonates even more profoundly today,” Moore noted.

Meanwhile, Swank, who also portrayed aviatrix Amelia Earhart, noted that she can’t wait to begin filming.
This is an incredible true story about female empowerment and going after your dreams,” said Swank. “When I was approached with Guthrie’s story by the great team at (production company) Balcony 9, I immediately said yes.”