Model: Action Racing Collectables 1976 Laguna
Release: Janet Guthrie ‘Kelly Girl’ 1977
eBay link: Janet Guthrie Laguna
Why I’m featuring it: Vintage NASCAR machines always make for great models. A few weeks ago, I was browsing the listings of Pasteiner’s (Auto Zone Hobbies) in Detroit, which always has interesting stuff for sale, and spotted this Laguna. The model looked great and wasn’t one I’d seen before, so I bought one.
In the 1970s, Janet Guthrie blazed a trail for US women in NASCAR, where she was the first woman to start the Daytona 500, and in IndyCar, where in 1977 she became the first female driver to qualify for the Indy 500, finishing 9th a year later.
Already in her late-30s, Guthrie started her first Cup race in 1976 despite encountering the kind of prejudice you might expect from that environment at that time. The following year, she finished 12th in the Daytona 500, going one place better in 1980. She went on to record 33 starts by the end of her career, including five top-10 finishes and leading a lap under caution.
The distinctive green Chevy Chevelle Laguna with sponsorship from temping agency, Kelly Services, is probably Guthrie’s best known race car. The model shown here by Action Racing Collectables (Lionel) is from the NASCAR Classics series and from what I can tell, represents Guthrie’s 1977 race car, although the car itself is a ’76.
It’s a big chunk of metal and about as detailed as these 3-inch NASCAR models get – they’re not at Inno 64 levels of precision (or price!), for example – but the casting and tampos are good, and the rubber-tired wheels hit the spot.
To finish, here’s a shot of the Laguna with a Chevy SS driven 35 years later by Danica Patrick, who surpassed Guthrie’s Cup Series records in the 2010s. Nearly 50 years after Guthrie, we’ve still yet to see a female winner in NASCAR’s top tier. Here’s hoping!
(follow me on Instagram @diecast215)