Betty Skelton Erde (AP Photo)
THE VILLAGES, Fla. (AP) - Betty Skelton Erde, an auto racing pioneer who was once the fastest woman on Earth, has died. She was 85.
Erde began as a female stunt pilot as a teenager in the 1940s.
She achieved dozens of firsts: 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's land speed record for women in 1965, hitting 315.72 mph at Bonneville, Utah. She was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
Erde flew planes into her 70s. When she was 82, she drove around her retirement community in a red Corvette.
She died Aug. 31 in The Villages, the central Florida city where she lived with her husband, Allan Erde.
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