"First Lady" of Firsts, Passes On

Enthusiast Betty Skelton passes at 85

Andy Bolig - September 08, 2011 04:45 PM

ImagePhoto Courtesy National Corvette Museum

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Betty Skelton, often called the "Fastest Woman on Earth" passed away on August 31st in her home in Florida.

Betty Skelton lived life to the fullest. Not only was she a racecar driver, a pilot, a speed boat jumper and an astronaut, but, she broke records in everything she did! The automotive world remembers her best for her association with Corvette and its early days of racing on the Daytona Beach race course. She also piloted aerobatic planes and her coveted Pitts biplane hangs inverted at the Dulles International Airport as part of the National Air and Space Museum.

After a short stint at piloting aerobatics (and winning three championships), Betty became interested in speed records on land. Everywhere she turned, she proceeded to break a record. She became good friends with NASCAR founder Bill France and became a regular at the races on the Daytona Beach race course. She began a relationship with GM which found her piloting a Corvette alongside famed drivers such as John Fitch and Zora Duntov! Betty's relationship with Corvettes extended into the rest of her life and she's reportedly owned ten in her lifetime. The automotive hobby is only one portion of the realms that have been spiced by the enthusiasm of this lady. She laid the foundations for many others to follow and in doing so, has earned a coveted spot on many a Hall of Fame. Check out the December issue of Auto Enthusiast (On newsstands mid-November) for a tribute to this woman who endeavored to live life to the fullest.