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Shirley Muldowney

From Academic Kids

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Cover of Drag Racing USA magazine, featuring Shirley Muldowney and her trademark pink dragster

Shirley Muldowney (born June 9, 1940 in Schenectady, New York), the "First Lady of Drag Racing" was the first woman to receive a licence to drive a top fuel dragster by the NHRA . She won the NHRA Top Fuel championship in 1977 and again in 1980. She retired from racing after a crash in 1984 but returned to the circuit in 1998 when she set a NHRA speed record. Muldowney retired again after the 2003 season. In 2004, she was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Muldowney's success came in the face of enormous opposition from those who felt drag racing was no place for women. Don Garlits, the "Big Daddy" of drag racing, 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."[1] (http://www.zoomster.com/big2.html)

Muldowney was described by longtime drag racer Fred Farndon as the "best 'natural' driver (top fuel or funny car), no question".[2] (http://www.metalshapers.org/nitrogeezers/Farndon%20Interview.htm)

Nicknamed "Cha-Cha"-a name chosen by car owner and then boyfriend Connie Kalitta-she later dropped the moniker, stating: "There is no room for bimboism in drag racing."

Shirley Muldowney is married to Rahn Tobler, who was her crew chief. After Muldoney's retirement, Tobler became crew chief for the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster of Doug Kalitta-the nephew of Connie Kalitta.

Muldowney was portrayed by actress Bonnie Bedelia in the 1983 film, Heart Like a Wheel.

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