Guthrie to focus on NASCAR

Thursday, July 28, 1977 – Janet Guthrie, the first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500, announced that she will give up her USAC license to focus on competing in NASCAR’s premier series. Guthrie, 39, had made five NASCAR starts in 1976 with a best finish of 15th at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Daytona International Speedway while also competing in USAC events. She had eight NASCAR starts in ’77 at the time of the announcement, highlighted by an 11th-place run at Bristol Motor Speedway.

• Guthrie was competing for NASCAR Rookie of the Year honors in ’77, along with Ricky Rudd, Sam Sommers, Tighe Scott, Tommy Gale and Gary Myers. Rudd was eventually named ROY.

• NASCAR and USAC conflicting race dates meant Guthrie would have to choose between sanctioning bodies. When NASCAR was scheduled to run at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, USAC teams would be running at Texas World Speedway; and when the stock car set pulled into Michigan International Speedway, open-wheel teams were slated to be racing in Milwaukee, Wis.

• Guthrie drove for team owner Lyndia Ferreri during the bulk of her brief NASCAR career. She never competed for a full season, running only partial schedules in ’76, ’77, ’78 and ’80. She is credited with 33 starts and five top-10 finishes.

• Guthrie made 12 open-wheel starts, including four in the Indianapolis 500. She finished a career-best ninth in the ’78 annual classic.

USAC bails, NASCAR steps in at Atlanta

Friday, June 30, 1961 – The Festival 250, a 250-mile USAC-sanctioned race scheduled for July 9 at Atlanta International Raceway, was cancelled due to tire concerns and risks associated with competing on the high-banked layout. As a result of the cancellation, track officials were able to obtain a race for NASCAR’s top series to be run on the same date instead.

Firestone officials expressed concern over track temperatures which reached almost 140 degrees when Indy veteran Dick Rathman made laps around the year-old speedway. The tire maker said it had been unable to complete necessary tire tests previously because of paving work taking place at the track. The two tire combinations eventually tested proved to be suitable for the open-wheel cars on the fast, banked speedway.

Atlanta officials said they had done everything they were asked of USAC to prepare of the race, including modifications to the relatively new track.

NASCAR agreed to step in and run an event on the same day with its Grand National series and featuring a purse of not less than $30,000.

The addition gave the series 52 races for the ’61 season.

In 2001, CART officials called off a race at Texas Motor Speedway due to concerns over extraordinary speeds and excessive G forces.