THE VILLAGES, Fla. (AP) - Betty Skelton Erde, an aviator and auto racing pioneer once called the fastest woman on Earth, has died. She was 85.
Erde set female speed records at Daytona Beach and Utah's Bonneville salt flats half a century ago. In 2008, she was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in suburban Detroit.
Dozens of firsts are attached to her name: the auto industry's first female test driver in 1954; the first woman to set a world land speed record in 1956 (145 mph at Daytona Beach); and the world land speed record for women in 1965, hitting 315.72 mph at Bonneville.
Erde began drawing attention as a female stunt pilot as a teenager in the 1940s.
``To me, there's hardly any feeling in the world that can equal the feeling of an airplane when the wheels leave the ground,'' Erde told The Associated Press in 2008.
She mastered dozens of tricks. Her signature move was cutting a ribbon strung between two fishing poles with her propeller, while flying upside down just 10 feet off the ground.
In 1948, she bought a rare Pitts Special - a lightweight, red-and-white biplane suited for aerobatics. But while Erde was soaring in popularity, she also was a rarity because she was a young, beautiful woman in a male-dominated world of death-defying stunts.
In 1953, the man who began the NASCAR race circuit asked Erde to fly some auto racers from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. She and Bill France became fast friends.
In February 1954, France invited Erde to Daytona. She climbed into a Dodge sedan, went 105.88 mph on the beach and set a stock car record. Erde became a Chevrolet employee and set records with Corvettes, owning 10 in all.
In the 50s, she raced across the South American Andes, down Mexico's rugged Baja Peninsula and also set records at the Chrysler proving grounds in Michigan.
``I would venture to say there is no other woman in the world with all the attributes of this woman,'' France once remarked. ``The most impressive of them all is her surprising and outstanding ever-present femininity, even when tackling a man's job.''
She flew planes until she was in her mid-70s; when she was 82, she drove around her retirement community in a red Corvette.
Said Erde in 2008: ``It's been quite a ride.''
She died Aug. 31 in The Villages, a retirement community in Central Florida, where she had lived with her husband, Allan Erde.

Recent NASCAR Discussions

STP 500 Betting News and Notes on Wed, Mar 2017 by Blade
Auto Club 400 Contest From Man Crates on Mon, Mar 2017 by Blade
Auto Club 400 Betting News and Notes on Thu, Mar 2017 by Blade
Camping World 500 Contest From Man Crates on Tue, Mar 2017 by Michael Cash
Kobalt 400 Contest From Man Crates on Thu, Mar 2017 by High Roller

NASCAR Odds

Driver Odds
Alpha Energy Solutions 250 - Odds to Win @ Martinsville Speedway
Chase Elliott +225
Matt Crafton +450
Johnny Sauter +500
Timothy Peters +650
Christopher Bell +700

Nascar Top Stories

Thumbnail Auto Club 400 Predictions The NASCAR Monster Energy Serieshas another big race today, the Auto Club 400? Here’s our picks for Sunday’s race.
Thumbnail California 300 Picks The NASCAR Xfinity Series is back in action later today for the running of the California 300. Here are some drivers we like to contend for the...
Thumbnail Auto Club 400 Odds The NASCAR Monster Energy Series make its way out to California this weekend for the running of the Auto Club 400. Here is a look at the...
Thumbnail California 300 Odds The NASCAR Xfinity Series opens the racing weekend on Saturday with the California 300. Here is a look at the odds to...
Thumbnail Camping World 500 Picks The NASCAR Monster Energy Seriesgets back into swing today with the Camping World 500? Here’s our picks for today’s race.