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World-famous driver, stunt pilot and model Betty Skelton set a Women’s Closed-Course World Speed Record at the opening of the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Mich., in September, 1954.

She hit 143.44 mph on the high-speed test track in a Dodge Firearrow sport coupe, a concept vehicle that had been introduced at the 1954 Detroit Automobile Show.

Chrysler Corp. never actually built the concept for the public, but the Firearrow did become a production vehicle in 1955 when a convertible version was built under license to Dual Motors, an independent company in Detroit. Called the Dual-Ghia, the car later became popular in Hollywood and was driven by actor Peter Lawford in "The Thin Man," a TV version of the popular movie series of the 1930s.


Betty Skelton
The high-flying, fast-driving Skelton (now Frankman) was born in Pensacola, Fla., in 1926. At age 12, she soloed in an airplane. By 1950, Skelton and her open-cockpit biplane, Little Stinker, were famous worldwide.

From 1948 to 1950 she won three international aerobatics competitions for women. One of her specialties was a maneuver known as "the inverted ribbon cut," in which she flew her plane upside down, 10 feet above the ground, and sliced through a ribbon stretched between two poles. In 1949 and 1951 she set the world light-plane altitude record.

On the ground, she broke her own women's land-speed record three times at Daytona Beach, Fla., the last time in 1956. She holds more combined aviation and automotive records than anyone else – man or woman – in history.


1956-58 Dual Ghia
Skelton also was the first woman to drive a jet car over 300 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats and to establish transcontinental auto records in the U.S. and South America.