Having been growing deaf since I was four years old myself, I'm amazed and inspired by Kitty O'Neil. I know how very hard it is not to let naysayers deter you, to face blockade after blockade because of your disability, so the fact she achieved her dreams and did so much in a male-dominated industry blows me away. As a matter of fact, I found a quote from her that says it was BECAUSE of employers not wanting to hire her that she ended up in a very nontraditional career.
She became deaf at the age of four due to illness. According to History Website, she was a diver in her younger years and almost made the Olympics. She contracted spinal meningitis, which was predicted to paralyze her, but didn't, and even battled cancer twice before the age of 28. I highly recommend you read the article. Incredible.
She was a stunt woman in Hollywood and in 1977, she drove a rocket dragster The Motivator in the Mojave Desert. She drove speeds up to 412 mph. The year previously, she set the land-speed record for women in Oregon.
Upon her retirement she held 22 land and water speed records.
There is a movie about her life, but I cannot find it on DVD. It's called Silent Victory: The Kitty O'Neil Story.
I've had a heck of a time finding a photo I may be able to use. I'm just going to have to go photoless this time. To see a photo, you can go here.