|Debut season 1958|
Name Shirley Muldowney
|Born Shirley Ann Roque June 19, 1940 (age 75)Burlington, Vermont (1940-06-19) |
1990, 2001, 2004 Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, National Hot Rod Association top 50 Drivers of 1951–2000, International Motor Sports Hall of Fame
Books Tales from a Top Fuel Dragster: A Collection of the Greatest Drag Racing Stories Ever Told
Spouse Rahn Tobler (m. 1988–2006), Jack Muldowney (m. 1956–1972)
Similar People Don Garlits, Connie Kalitta, Don Prudhomme, John Force, Angelle Sampey
Shirley muldowney drag racer biography
Shirley Muldowney (born June 19, 1940), also known professionally as "Cha Cha" and the "First Lady of Drag Racing", is an American auto racer. She was the first woman to receive a license from the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) to drive a Top Fuel dragster. She won the NHRA Top Fuel championship in 1977, 1980, and 1982, becoming the first person to win two and three Top Fuel titles. She won a total of 18 NHRA national events.
- Shirley muldowney drag racer biography
- Shirley muldowney career highlights 100winsbywomen
- Racing career
- Cancer scare
- Shirleys Kids
- Awards and honors
Shirley muldowney career highlights 100winsbywomen
Born Shirley Ann Roque in Burlington, Vermont, Muldowney began street racing in the 1950s in Schenectady, New York. "School had no appeal to me. All I wanted was to race up and down the streets in a hot rod," declared Muldowney. When she was 16, she married 19-year-old Jack Muldowney, who would build her first dragster.
It was Jack Muldowney who first taught me how to drive a car. Jack was the mechanic. He was the guy who tuned the cars that let the girl beat all the boys. I was a kid from upstate New York with no guidance, no direction. I was headed for trouble, nothing going for me. Then I found the sport at a very young age and was able to make something out of it.
In 1958, Muldowney made her debut on the dragstrip of the Fonda Speedway. She obtained her NHRA pro license in 1965. She competed in the 1969 and 1970 U.S. Nationals in a twin-engine dragster in Top Gas. With Top Gas losing popularity, Muldowney switched to Funny Car, buying her first car from Connie Kalitta.
Around this time, she and her husband drifted apart; they finally divorced in 1972. "He didn't want to go nitro racing and we parted, but we stayed friends all those years until he passed away [in 2007]," she later said.
Muldowney won her first major event, the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Southern Nationals, in 1971.
She stepped up to Top Fuel, getting her license in 1973. From 1973 to 1977, she teamed up with Connie Kalitta as the Bounty Hunter and Bounty Huntress in match races, in a pair of Ford Mustangs, hers a Buttera chassis, his a Logghe. The Bounty Huntress Mustang caught fire at Dragway 42 in Ohio in 1973.
An unprecedented three NHRA Top Fuel Dragster world championships followed, in 1977, 1980, and 1982.
Muldowney success met enormous opposition from those who felt drag racing (or any form of motorsport, for that matter) was no place for women. Don Garlits has said about her:
Now, if you ask who do I have the most respect for, I'd say Shirley Muldowney. She went against all odds. They didn't want her to race Top Fuel, the association, the racers, nobody...Just Shirley.
Muldowney noted, "NHRA fought me every inch of the way, but when they saw how a girl could fill the stands; they saw I was good for the sport."
A crash in 1984 crushed her hands, pelvis, and legs, necessitating half a dozen operations and 18 months of therapy. Muldowney was sidelined for a long period, but returned to the circuit in the late 1980s. She continued to race, mostly without major sponsorship, throughout the 1990s in IHRA competition as well as match-racing events. She returned to the NHRA towards the end of her career, running select events until her retirement at the end of 2003.
Muldowney was described by longtime drag racer Fred Farndon as the "best 'natural' driver (top fuel or funny car), no question."
Recent activities include the dictation of her memoirs, Shirley Muldowney's Tales from the Track, which Bill Stephens transcribed, and which Sports Publishing L.L.C. published in 2005.
In March 2016 Muldowney disregarded a cancer scare to be the official starter of the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals. Having been given a diagnosis of lung cancer prior to the event, Muldowney was later given a diagnosis of histoplasmosis, a curable and non-malignant fungal infection which can mimic cancer.
Muldowney operates a charitable organization, Shirley's Kids, which helps children in need in cities where drag racing is part of the community.