NASCAR to Present Special Honoring Speed Pioneer Betty Skelton: How, When to Watch

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)

Learning about the greats in NASCAR should be a priority for any fan. The name of Betty Skelton probably is not a household one. It should be, though. Her accomplishments in the world of speed, as it relates to NASCAR, motorsports, and aviation, deserve attention. A new special about her life and achievements is coming out on FS1. This has some heavy hitters, too, commenting on her career. People like Danica Patrick and Jay Leno, ones who love cars and motorsports themselves, speak up in this special about Betty Skelton.

NASCAR Pioneer Betty Skelton Talks About Going To Speed Week

We even get to hear Skelton’s voice as part of this special. At one point, she talks about going down to Daytona Beach, Fla., for the first time.

“I had a charter flight to fly three famous race drivers for Bill France Sr., who then was just getting NASCAR started,” she said. “He said, ‘How would you like to come down to Daytona for Speed Week?’ And I said, ‘Well, what is Speed Week?’ He explained to me what NASCAR was doing with speeds at Daytona.

“And I said, ‘Well sure, I’d love to come but I’d have to have a sponsor,'” Skelton said. “Oh, six months later he called and said, ‘I have you a sponsor.'” Well, Betty went down to the long, long beaches of Daytona Beach and started running cars and checking out how fast she could go.

Skelton Recalls Hitting 143, 144 MPH During Speed Driving Work

“The speed, ooh I think it was somewhere around 143, 44 miles per hour, the average speed,” she said. “It was a new record for women.” This woman was not messing around out there one bit.

“She was an amazing, competitive person,” Leno said. “I can’t imagine what it must be like to be in the top of your profession and people just laugh at you because, ‘Well, you’re a woman, sorry. No, we don’t allow women.’ ‘Yeah, but I just broke the record.’ ‘Yep, sorry. It’s great you broke the record but we can’t recognize it.'”

Three-time Olympic champion Misty May-Treanor hosts this special that focuses on Skelton and her career. It’ll be something that people who love NASCAR and Betty Skelton and those who love history will find interesting. Tune in to FS1 on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Eastern, 5 p.m. Central, for a look at an amazing, powerful woman.

By the way, the picture I chose to go along with this story records some history in it. The photo comes from February 1956. Skelton is in a Chevrolet Corvette that she drove to a new women’s world speed record of 156.99 mph on the Daytona Beach-Road Course.