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Janet Guthrie: A Life at Full Throttle Hardcover – March 9, 2005

4.9 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


A refreshing peek at a history of racing nicely crafted by an author who does not rely on a ghostwriter. -- Phil Berg in Auto Week on May 30, 2005

A well-written, insightful look into Guthrie's life...the successes she had, as well as the...barriers she had to overcome. -- Jerry Bonkowski in Yahoo Sports on May 12, 2005

An accomplished new memoir...one of the most distinctive [books] ever written on racing, and one of the best. -- Charles Hirshberg in Sports Illustrated on June 6, 2005

Guthrie...demonstrates her flair with words in her autobiography. ...She has pulled off another triumph. -- Nelson Price in Indianapolis Star on May 1, 2005

Run, do not walk, to your bookstore. -- Dave Kindred in The Sporting News on June 6, 2005

This book is must reading for female athletes...so enlightening that every sports fan should give it a try. -- Phil Tatman in Orlando Sentinel on June 27, 2005

With rich...detail, Guthrie puts the reader in the driver's seat...[H]er experiences are ones we can all learn from. -- Michele Vincze in Fort Worth Star-Telegram on June 8, 2005

From the Inside Flap

In 1977, Janet Guthrie made front-page headlines across America and sent editorial writers scurrying for their typewriters when she breached the male bastion of auto racing to become the first woman competitor to run in the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500. The world had never seen a race car driver quite like her. In "Janet Guthrie: A Life at Full Throttle," Guthrie has crafted an autobiography that stands as a testament to perseverance, resilience and courage. Meticulous in its detail, this is an eloquent account of one athlete's demonstration that, physically, emotionally and mentally, women are as well equipped as men to compete in the utterly demanding and occasionally deadly sport of auto racing. Guthrie's riveting narrative captures the complexity of the racing business and the essence of the racing life, both on the track and off. With passion, she details the physical, emotional and intellectual demands of the sport. She recounts the barriers she overcame in a business fueled as much by machismo as gasoline, recalling moments of isolation, dejection and frustration, but also the moments of sheer joy and exhileration that marked her journey. And she shares with readers the adrenaline rush of steering a race car through the turns at close to 200 miles per hour. But more than a racing story, Guthrie provides an enlightening examination of changing attitiudes in the 1970s, when, due in part to the women's movement, America underwent fundamental social change. Amid the turmoil, Guthrie's arrival at Indianapolis and Daytona became a lightning rod for backlash. Ultimately, she earned the respect of the racing fraternity and the admiration of America, particularly among women. But first she had to suffer the anger, scorn and derision of other drivers, media and fans who clung to antiquated notions of a woman's place in society. She recounts outrageous comments from elite drivers like Richard Petty and Bobby Unser, ridicule from some of the nation's most respected sportswriters, and hate mail from fans. Yet she was unflinching in her quest to succeed. Always an adventurer, never a follower, forever a pioneer, Guthrie smashed barriers to emerge as a heartfelt voice for females of her generation, an Amelia Earhart for the modern age.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Sport Media Publishing; 1st Canadian edition (March 9, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1894963318
  • ISBN-13: 978-1894963312
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,230,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a die-hard racing fan from the 60's and 70's, I have many books on the sport from those times. While my personal favorite is still Mark Donohue's "Unfair Advantage," Janet Guthrie's book easily ranks right up there with the best, and amazingly she wrote it all by herself, with no "ghost" writer. While I followed racing closely back then, I was surprised at how little I remembered about the details of her racing, especially in NASCAR. Her book is VERY well written and flows smoothly, covering efforts in both Indy racing and NASCAR, and does an exceptional job of explaining the difficulties (and discrimination) she faced. The key to the book, however is how she succeeds in making the reader understand that, in her view, she was a racer first and that being a woman was not the issue to her. She never wanted to be the best woman racer, she wanted to be the best racer, period. Well written, descriptive, and eye-opening about some of the sexism that happened at the time, the well designed book makes this an extremely enjoyable read for the race fan and anyone interested in reading about one person's efforts to just do what he/she loves doing, with help from some good people and in spite of the neanderthal opposing mind set of the times. Good job Janet, and good luck to Danica Patrick, Sara Fisher, and the others still fighting the barriers the pioneering Janet Guthrie helped knock down.
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Format: Hardcover
I started sports car racing about the same time as Janet, also had no money, and enjoyed all the years of scratching and clawing for a ride. I could not have written this book, though, because not only did she do something special, she tells the stories so well. I learned more about her in the book than I did at the time, and as a result of the book, feel the shared history and experiences deeply.

As a mutual friend said, "...it's exposed more about her and what she did and how she did it than most (of her comtemporary racing friends) either knew or understood...it's established more of a camaraderie with other racers ..." than was thought to exist at the time.

I wish she would publish the other several hundred pages she had to cut out of this beek, as I am sure I would enjoy it also.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Janet Guthrie was more qualified than many drivers who had quality rides in open-wheel and stock-car racing. She was a graduate of the University of Michigan (B. Sc. in physics), an aerospace engineer and flight instructor while race-car driving as early as 1963 in a Jaguar XK 140 that she prepared.

But being a female in a male-dominated business made for a career that had a very rough road. Guthrie persevered under very trying times to reach the pinnacle in the sport in 1977, qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 - becoming the first woman to qualify and compete in the event - and Daytona 500 - finishing the race as the top rookie driver.

And after nearly 20 years in search of a publisher and several hundred pages cut from her manuscript, Guthrie delivers an excellent read that covers her life on and off the track.

Guthrie wanted to be known as a race-car driver, but there were too many people who couldn't get past her gender. That was from the boardrooms of potential sponsors to initial tough comments from competitors like Richard Petty and Bobby Unser and workers at venues like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway who were determined to make Guthrie know in so many ways that she wasn't welcome & could never compete financially with the top teams.

Though Petty and Unser eventually gave Guthrie props - Petty saying in 1978 that she may win a NASCAR event with a better ride & Unser stating she has done a good job - there were drivers like Tom Sneva and Buddy Baker and others in the industry who assisted her in reaching for the stars. Even though Guthrie blazed a trail, it ultimately smacked into a brick wall when a lack of sponsorship dollars prevented her from competing in the top events.

In 2006, Guthrie was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. A Life at Full Throttle is a story about struggling against institutionalized gender discrimination and how the road to true equity remains under construction.
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Format: Hardcover
I was in junior high school when Ms. Guthrie ran in the Indy 500, and was wowed by the fact that a woman could make it auto racing. Those who of us who remember the era before Title 9 know how tough it was for female athletes in any sport, but especially auto racing which remains a male-dominated field to this day.

Cheers to you, Ms. Guthrie, for your excellent career, for opening the doors, for your marvelous record on the track, and for an exciting memoir that's as fast-paced as your race car! Five stars!
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Format: Hardcover
I have read many racing books. Most are poorly written and edited not to mention inaccurate. This book raises the bar to a new level that all will aspire to from now on. It has to be the best racing book written in years if ever.

It is also an excellent book that is a commentary that documents where we were and when reflected on where we are today in society standards and womens status in society today. We have come a long way with a ways still to go.

This book should be required reading for all racing fans and college professors developing a reading list for a womens studies or history program. It is that good without exception. I highly recomend it.
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