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Annual Road Trips To The Brickyard, “Stuhr-ing” Memories Inspire Latest 30 for 30, “Qualified”

An ESPN employee explains how his family's Indy 500 trek spurred documenting pioneer Janet Guthrie's story - with his brother's help

EDITOR’S NOTE: Keith Stuhr is a production operations manager at ESPN in Bristol, Conn., overseeing the Production Control Room (PCR) group and its facility/scheduling Resource Coordination team. He’s also the brother of Greg Stuhr, co-producer of the new 30 for 30 film “Qualified,” the story of Janet Guthrie’s bid to become the first woman to compete in the Indy 500. The film debuts tonight at 8 ET on ESPN. Just before he, brother Greg and co-producer Jenna Ricker completed their trek from Buffalo to Indianapolis for the 2019 running of the Indy 500, he explains how his family’s beloved ritual helped inspire this film.

INDIANAPOLIS – As I approach my 30th anniversary at ESPN, I’m proud to say my brother Greg is about to make his own “30” mark here. The upcoming 30 for 30 documentary “Qualified” is the immersive film work of producer Greg Stuhr and director/producer Jenna Ricker.

The untold story behind this documentary, though, is the fact that it found its genesis on one of our annual Stuhr family road trips from Buffalo, N.Y., to the Indy 500.

Our parents Carol and Donald Stuhr first hit the road to Indy in the 1960s, thanks to tickets from a family friend, and my mother carried me to my first 500 in 1966, some seven months before I was born.

As Greg and I moved away from home into our respective careers, the 500 became a springtime family reunion. Our much-anticipated drive to “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” was filled with familiar rituals like debating where to stop for the cheapest gas, Dad singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” every 30 minutes, and winding through the narrowest of side streets of Speedway, Ind., to get our pre-race breakfast at Charlie Brown’s Pancake & Steak House.

Greg and I sadly lost Mom in 2002, one of the few years we missed the race. Honoring her memory, Dad kept the family tradition going, leading us Stuhr boys back to the track nearly every Memorial Day weekend since Mom’s passing. Dad eventually remarried, and Rita has been a welcome addition to our family tradition.

Jenna joined the Stuhr pilgrimage in 2010. It was on the ride to Indy in 2016 during a historical discussion of women drivers, that Greg mentioned Janet Guthrie, which led Jenna to Janet’s compelling autobiography, “A Life at Full Throttle.”

Inspired by her story, Jenna and Greg teamed up with veteran 30 for 30 producers Nina Krstic and Caroline Waterlow (of ESPN Films Oscar-winning “O.J.: Made in America” fame).

With added support from ESPN Films, “Qualified” was off to the races.

Three “Qualified” Facts You’ll Want To Know:

Step into the 30 for 30 time machine and enjoy the above excerpt from the film, furnished exclusively for Front Row. Then, consider these facts:

  • The documentary production crew was comprised of many women including director Jenna Ricker, producer Nina Krstic, producer Caroline Waterlow, coordinating producer Connie Honeycutt, associate editor Hilary Crowe, director of photography Christine Ng, assistant camera Christina Wairegi and assistant editor Vanessa Tengrove.
  • Jenna and Nina traveled to Aspen to sort through Guthrie’s personal video archive. Her only TV is in her bedroom, so they all sat on her bed together and watched old home movies on VHS of early racing days.
  • Nearly 80% of “Qualified” is archival material (78% to be exact).

Jennifer Cingari Christie contributed to this post.

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