Google pays tribute to Kitty O'Neil, once the fastest woman in the world

In 1976, Kitty O'Neil was crowned the 'fastest woman alive' for shattering all records for driving a rocket-powered car. Today's Google Doodle pays her a tribute

BS Web Team New Delhi
google Doodle, Kitty O' Neil

Photo: Google

Google Doodle on Friday paid tribute to Kitty O'Neil, an American stunt performer who was once crowned "the fastest woman in the world".
On the occasion of O'Neil's 77th birth anniversary, Google hailed the rocket-powered vehicle driver who had been deaf since childhood. The doodle was made by Washington DC-based deaf guest artist Meeya Tjiang, who illustrated O Neil's life by positioning her next to a rocket-powered car, depicting the ace race driver's daredevil career.

Who was Kitty O'Neil?
Born in 1946 to a Cherokee Native American mother and Irish father in Corpus Christi in Texas, United States, Kitty faced a major setback when she contracted multiple diseases just months after being born, leading to her becoming deaf. However, Neil never let it become a roadblock for her. She mastered different communication modes to beat the odds. Instead of seeing her disability as a liability, she saw it as an asset, Google said.

She faced another setback when she got a wrist injury and illness, which later cut her driving career short. However, Neil continued to stay committed to achieving the dream of becoming a professional athlete.

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She tried some of the adventurous high-speed sports, including water skiing and motorcycle racing and performed acts like falling from unnerving heights while being set on fire.
In the 1970s, Neil began a career as a stunt double for big screens. She was the first woman to join Stunts Unlimited, an organisation for Hollywood's top stunt performers, after performing in The Bionic Woman (1976) and Wonder Woman (1977-1979).

In 1976, O'Neil was crowned the "fastest woman alive" for shattering all records for driving a rocket-powered car. At 512.76 miles an hour, she surpassed the last record by almost 200 mph. With that performance, nobody doubted she couldn't beat the men's record.
However, her sponsors did not allow her to compete, fearing it would threaten the status quo. "Neil even attempted fighting this sexism legally but failed and never secured the opportunity to break the overall record, which was held by a man," Google said.

In 1979, a biopic about her life was released, titled Silent Victory: The Kitty O'Neil Story, which recaps the impressive Alvord Desert feat.

O'Neil passed away in 2018 at 72 from pneumonia in South Dakota.

First Published: Mar 24 2023 | 9:54 AM IST

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