The ESPN 30 for 30 documentary film Qualified profiles race car driver Janet Guthrie breaking through to become the first woman to run in the Daytona 500 and Indy 500 in the mid-1970s.
How to Watch ‘Qualified’ Online
Every film in the complete 30 for 30 library, including Qualified, can be watched with a subscription to ESPN+.
Once signed up for ESPN+, you can watch Qualified on your computer via the ESPN website, or you can watch on your phone (iOS or Android), tablet, Roku, Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Xbox One or other compatible streaming device via the ESPN app.
‘Qualified’ 30 for 30 Preview
The ESPN “30 for 30” documentary Qualified is a film that depicts Janet Guthrie’s trailblazing efforts to break-through in professional motorsports in the 1970s.
In the span of a few months in 1977, Guthrie became the first woman to compete in the Daytona 500 and then went on to be the first female to qualify and race in the Indianapolis 500.
Guthrie took up an interest in racing at the age of 25 and tabled a career in aerospace engineering to pursue her growing passion.
“A woman growing up in this society learns certain mannerisms, gestures that are associated with being female and so have I,” Guthrie said in the film. “The moment I put on a driver’s suit, all that fell away. I shed it. And all I was, was a driver.”
After 13 years of racing sports cars, which garnered her a national reputation on various circuits, she received a life-altering call from Rolla Vollstedt, an Indy Car owner and chief mechanic.
Vollstedt asked her if she’d be interested in taking a crack at the world’s most famous race, the Indy 500 – and the rest you could say, was history.
The film documents the challenges that Guthrie was up against as she attempted to break-through in the male-dominated world of motorsports in the 70s, including facing pointed criticism and backlash from male drivers, racing fans and the media.
Guthrie spoke with USA Today’s For The Win for an online piece that was published prior to the premiere of the film in May of 2019. The then 81-year-old Guthrie expressed how she dealt with the criticism and misogyny she faced when she was breaking through in the sport.
“The important part is to be able to go out onto the track and make all the rest of it go away — just vanish — so that the only thing that’s in your consciousness is the car and the track and what the car is doing and how you can get through the turns faster,” Guthrie said in For The Win’s feature. “That kind of focus was what I had developed over 13 years of sports car racing, so that was what counted.”
The documentary gives the viewer an all-encompassing look into Guthrie’s story, as told by ESPN’s film summary:
“With unprecedented access to the era’s local television coverage, network broadcasts, rarely seen promotional films, home movies, and private photo and film collections, Qualified story comes to life through archival material.”
Throughout the film, Guthrie’s extreme determination and ability to persevere under the direst of circumstances are on full display.
After failing to qualify for the 1976 Indianapolis 500 due to mechanical issues with her car, Guthrie received an offer from NASCAR to drive in the Charlotte 600-mile race on the same day as the Indy 500.
Despite having never had raced a NASCAR stock car before, Guthrie qualified after only two days of practice and overcame an exhaust system malfunction to finish 15th place in the race.
In February of 1977, Guthrie became the first woman to run in the Daytona 500. She began the race at the tail end of the pack in 39th and ended up cracking the top 10, finishing in ninth place.
Guthrie then cracked the 190mph mark in Indianapolis in May of 1977, becoming the first woman to qualify for the Indy 500.
The following year she was backed by a sponsorship from Texaco and qualified for the 1978 Indy 500, where despite racing with a broken wrist, she went on to finish in ninth.
Guthrie competed in her final Indy Car race on August 12, 1979, finishing fifth. She would spend the next few years trying to chase down a sponsorship and financial support to continue racing but ultimately stepped away in 1983 after not being able to obtain an offer.
“Qualified” was directed by Jenna Ricker, a member of the Directors Guild of America, who wrote and directed the films “Ben’s Plan” (2007) and “The American Side” (2016).
“I was instantly inspired by Guthrie’s tenacity and intrigued by her story,” Ricker said in a “Director’s Take” for ESPN.
“Car racing is one of the only sports where men and women compete with each other on the same field at the same time. Once that helmet goes on and that driver climbs in the cockpit, anyone would be hard-pressed to identify whether it was a man or a woman behind the wheel. So why did she face such intense scrutiny and resistance from her male counterparts and racing fans? I wanted to know more about this athlete that loved racing so much she gave up a career in aeronautical engineering, went broke, ceded her anonymity, and fought against impossible odds just to have a shot at driving 200mph. And I couldn’t shake that more than being the “first”, Guthrie’s obstacles and personal sacrifice still resonate forty years later, and well off the track.”
“Qualified” was Ricker’s first feature documentary. She spoke to USA Today’s For The Win about what she’d like viewers to take away from the film.
“I hope the takeaway will be my experience with Janet’s story and my team’s experience with Janet’s story, which was both inspired and frustrating,” said Ricker. “You really realize what could have been, had she received the backing and had the full career that she was so very capable and worthy of. So there’s some frustration there, but there’s really an overarching sense of inspiration and pride in watching someone so truly connected to what they want to do in their life, so tenacious about it, that they’ll do whatever it takes. And I think that transcends sports.”
What Other Content is on ESPN+?
Name a sport, and it’s probably on ESPN+ at some point throughout the year:
- UFC: Most “Fight Night” events are on ESPN+, while PPV events can be ordered through ESPN+
- International Soccer: ESPN+ has exclusive rights to all Serie A, FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Copa del Rey matches in the US. Also includes EFL, Coppa Italia, Copa America, A-League, Dutch Eredivisie, Indian Super League, W-League and more
- Boxing: Dozens of Top Rank fights, which includes Vasyl Lomachenko and Tyson Fury
- College Sports: Hundreds of football and men’s and women’s basketball games (including many Big 12 games), as well as lacrosse, hockey, wrestling, volleyball, softball, baseball, swimming, gymnastics and more
- Tennis: Grand Slam events, including exclusive coverage of every Wimbledon and US Open match not televised on the ESPN or ESPN2
- International cricket: Matches featuring New Zealand, India and others
- International Rugby: Including Guinness PRO14 and Super Rugby matches
- MLB: One daily out-of-market game
- NHL: One daily out-of-market game
- MLS: All out-of-market matches
Other Documentaries & Films
Other ESPN documentaries and films that aren’t included in the actual 30-for-30 series are also available on ESPN+, including D. Wade: Life Unexpected, Venus vs, The ’99ers and others.
The list of ESPN+ originals continues to grow. It includes Peyton’s Places, The Boardroom with Kevin Durant, NBA Rooks, Ariel & The Bad Guy, The Fantasy Show and Alex Morgan: The Equalizer.
UFC On-Demand Library
In addition to live UFC events, ESPN+ also features a vast library of past fights you can watch. This includes classics from Conor McGregor, Anderson Silva, Michael Bisping, Brock Lesnar, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz, Frank Mir and others. You can find a complete rundown of the ESPN+ UFC library here.
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