CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Janet Guthrie, the first woman to race in the Indianapolis 500, says Winston Cup racing, governed by NASCAR, discriminates against women and blacks.
'It's exclusively all white male, with no blacks and no women,' Guthrie, 50, said Tuesday during the Charlotte Motor Speedway media tour.
Guthrie, who said she still aspires to drive competitively but has spent recent years working on a book about her racing exploits, said several NASCAR drivers came to her aid on the Winston Cup circuit, but later were ridiculed by their peers.
'I learned not to (divulge who helped her) because the next day they wouldn't talk to me,' said Guthrie, who in 1977 became the first woman to drive in the Indy and in a NASCAR superspeedway race. 'I later found out it was because the other guys would kid them. I think if a woman had continued to run Winston Cup (races), a lot of that attitude would have changed, but I think some of that attitude has crept back in.'
The last woman to drive on the Winston Cup circuit was Robin McCall Dallenbach, wife of Wally Dallenbach Jr. She has not driven in a NASCAR event since the early 1980s.
Guthrie said she was speaking out because, 'I have nothing to lose by saying this.'
She said she once was treated rudely by Indy-car driver Bobby Unser at Indianapolis.
'Bobby Unser told me he could take a hitchhiker and teach him to drive better than me,' Guthrie said.
Guthrie was on a panel that included four other female race drivers: Desire Wilson of Europe, who races Formula One cars; Karen Schulz, rookie of the year in 1986 in the Charlotte Daytona Dash Series; Patty Moise, who will drive on the Busch Grand National circuit this year; and Deborah Gregg, 1987 rookie of the year in the Sports Car Club of America.
Schulz, Moise and Gregg said they had not encountered chauvinism in professional racing.
Guthrie is the only woman to have competed in the Daytona 500. She finished 12th in 1977 and 11th in 1980. She finished 15th in the 1977 World 600 in Charlotte.
She drove in three Indy 500s from 1977-79. Her best finish was ninth in 1978.