When women weren’t allowed in the garage, these barrier-breakers met in a restroom


When Janet Guthrie – the first woman to start the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500 – raced at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1976, there was no women’s restroom in the garage. Instead, she used the women’s room in the infield area to change into her driver’s suit.

It was there that Guthrie first met Katy Ballard.

“I was changing into my driver’s suit and I came out and here’s this lovely woman with her blond hair teased up,” Guthrie recounted to Kyle Petty during the latest “Coffee with Kyle” episode.

According to Guthrie, Katy introduced herself as the wife of Walter Ballard, explaining, “I build all of his engines.”

When Guthrie asked Katy why she wasn’t in the garage with the rest of the mechanics, she recalls Katy exclaiming, “Oh, I wouldn’t do that; that’s for the men!”

Katy Ballard
Katy Ballard, via reddit

“That was the attitude,” Guthrie reflected to Petty. “Here she is building the racing engines, but she isn’t good to go in the garage area.”

In her conversation with Petty, Guthrie discusses everything from learning how to fly planes at age 13 to her barrier-breaking races. The full “Coffee with Kyle” episode can be found here or embedded above.

[READ MORE: Janet Guthrie recounts her first starts at Indy 500 and Charlotte 600]


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