Carol Cox (on the left, already leading in this shot) in the finals at the 1962 U.S. Nationals at Indy, on her way to the win. She was not only the first woman to win at Indy, she was the first wife to win at the same event as her husband.

Carol and Lloyd Cox: First Husband and Wife U.S. Nationals Winners

The early 1960s were a lot of things, an era of 25-cent gasoline, Detroit’s dominance of the automotive market, the birth of drag racing, and the rapid explosion of the performance aftermarket. But it was also an era of darker things, among them open and blatant sexism. A woman’s place was in the kitchen and the best present a husband could buy his wife was a new vacuum cleaner or maybe a washer and dryer.

The prevalent attitude towards women at the time can be seen in advertising. Just do a search for “sexist ads” and you’ll see what we mean. One such ad applies to this story. It was for a Volkswagen bug. The photo showed a VW with a busted out headlight and crumbled driver’s side front fender. The headline read, "Sooner or later, your wife will drive home one of the best reasons for owning a Volkswagen." The gist of the ad copy was that women are poor drivers and they can’t help it, they just hit things, "She can jab the hood, graze the door, or bump off the bumper." But with a Volkswagen, fear not, the parts are cheap and won’t cost you much to replace, "So when your wife goes window shopping in a Volkswagen, don't worry. You can conveniently replace anything she uses to stop the car. Even the brakes."