Female Trailblazer Inducted into Motorsports Hall of Fame

Great article about 82-year-old Betty Skelton Erde, a retired stunt pilot and auto racer, who was once the fastest woman in the world and is being inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in suburban Detroit today—only the fifth female inductee.
Erde will attend the ceremony in which Champ Car driver Michael Andretti and five other racing legends also are being inducted.

Dozens of firsts are attached to her name: the auto industry's first female test driver, in 1954; the first woman to set a world land speed record in 1956 (145 mph at Daytona Beach); and then the world land speed record for women in 1965, hitting 315.72 mph at Bonneville.
She was also the first woman to undergo the physical and psychological tests NASA required of the seven original male astronauts after she "complained that NASA wasn't giving more thought to women pilots." The article is peppered with revealing asides like that—Skelton Erde "wanted very much to fly in the Navy, but all they would do is laugh when I asked"—but my favorite little tidbit is this:
In the 50s, she raced across the South American Andes, down Mexico's Baja Peninsula and set records at the Chrysler proving grounds in Michigan.

"I would venture to say there is no other woman in the world with all the attributes of this woman," [Bill France, who began the NASCAR circuit] once remarked. "The most impressive of them all is her surprising and outstanding ever-present femininity, even when tackling a man's job."
Talk about a back-handed compliment!

The irony about that observation is that if Skelton Erde's most impressive attribute had really been remaining feminine "even when tackling a man's job," she wouldn't be being inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame today. The truth of it is that if she hadn't nonetheless remained feminine while blazing her record-setting trail, she wouldn't be being inducted today, either ('cuz no one wants to fuck ugly groundbreaking girls).

Congratulations, Ms. Skelton Erde—and thanks for leaving a little bit of the patriarchy in your dust!

[H/T to Shaker Stakkalee.]

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