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Betty Skelton Erde; Lived in the Fast Lane

13 09 11 - 23:00

Once dubbed "The World;s Fastest Woman", Betty Skelton grew up in the fast lane and lived there most of her life. She set several speed records on the ground and in the air. In between those daring feats, she piloted a stunt boat at Florida's Cypress Gardens & even tried her hand at sky diving. She did it all with a quiet dignity, yet still caused a stir for driving her Corvette in lieu of golf carts @ the Villages Retirement Community.

From Hemmings.com:
Born in Pensacola, Florida, she soloed at age 12 and went on to become one of flying's great aerobatic pilots. She competed in the Cleveland Air Races and set an altitude record (29,050 feet) in a Piper Super Cub, but Skelton become truly famous for buying a then-new Pitts Special S-1C and winning an aerobatics title in 1948. That plane, the Little Stinker, now hangs as a display at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C.

Skelton's fame prompted NASCAR founder Bill France to invite her to Daytona Speedweeks, where she set a record of 106 MPH on the beach course in 1954, driving a Dodge Red Ram Hemi. She set other records for Dodge on the Bonneville Salt Flats, and then became a Chevrolet advertising executive and spokeswoman for Corvette. In 1965, she drove Art Arfons' Green Monster jet to a two-way average of 276 MPH at Bonneville. Skelton was enshrined in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in Detroit, which provided these photos, and in the National Corvette Museum Hall of Fame.

Skelton died Aug. 31 at the age of 85.

Godspeed, dear beauty.

More info:
Lady of Firsts
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