Google Doodle honors Kitty O’Neil, ‘fastest woman alive’
If you’re familiar with the life of Jessi Combs, you’re probably familiar with the term as well. “fastest woman alive,” like a comb earned after death female land speed record after a tragic accident in the Oregon desert in 2019. However, before that Combs . Great Speed Run, Kitty O’Neil set records in the 1970s and even outstripped the men of her time. Today, Google honored O’Neil with a Doodle, so it’s time to learn a short history lesson about the original “fastest woman alive.”
O’Neil was born in Texas in the mid-1940s, and although she battled many childhood illnesses that caused her to lose her hearing, she became a competitive diver as a teenager. . She had great success, but a practice accident during preparation for the 1964 Olympics resulted in a broken wrist and spinal meningitis, which could have left her unable to walk.
She continued to participate in swimming events but eventually lost interest in water sports and switched to faster activities like water skiing and skydiving. Amazingly, she faced another medical setback in her late 30s when she underwent cancer treatment.
Seeking increasingly dangerous thrills, O’Neil turned to racing in the 1970s, competing at the Mint 400 and Baja 500. From there, she turned to stunt work and became a womanizer. first worked with Stunts Unlimited, a great talent agency. She was cast in “The Bionic Woman” and “Smokey and the Bandit II,” which prompted Mattel to create a Kitty O’Neil action figure.
In 1976, O’Neil went to the desert of southeastern Oregon to set a land speed record for female drivers. She averaged over 512 mph and top speed of 621 mph and later said she was only using 60 percent of the car’s available capacity, believing she passed 700 mph at full blast. However, her contract with sponsors prevented her from overtaking male driver Hal Needham, even though he never even got behind the wheel to score a speed.
In later life, O’Neil slowed down his stunt and driving career after witnessing colleagues killed in action. She finished her career with 22 land and water speed records. She died of pneumonia at the end of 2018 at the age of 72 and in 2019 she was honored in the In Memoriam section of the Oscars.