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Lgends Of The Sport;/ Shirley Muldowney
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This is the first in a series of Articles titled," Legends of the Sport ", in this Article we will look at the career of Shirley Muldowney. The "First Lady of Drag Racing" was born Shirley Ann Rogue on June 19, 1940 in up-state New York. She began street racing at an early age and at age 16 married 19-year-old Jack Muldowney. Jack opened a gas station and garage and later built their first dragster.

Nhra fought Shirley all the way, they did not think a female belonged in Drag Racing so they refused her a license unless she could obtain three signatures from her competitors. Connie Kalitta and 'Big Daddy" Don Garlits were two of the three that signed her license, so in 1965 she received her Nhra License. For the next few years she would race in Top Gas Class, but it soon lost its appeal so she decided to go Funny Car racing.

Jack did not want to go on the road with a Fuel car so they separated and Shirley bought her first Funny Car from Connie Kalitta and won her first major championship, the IHRA "Southern Nationals" in 1971, she & Connie toured together for the next four or five years

In 1973 Shirley got her Top Fuel Dragster license, but Nhra was still reluctant to have a female in the sport. In 1977 Shirley proved them wrong by winning her first World Championship, then went on to win two more World Titles in 1980 and 1982. When asked who he had the most respect for "Big Daddy" said, Shirley Muldowney because she went against all odds.

In 1984 Shirley was involved in a top end crash that almost killed her, it crushed her pelvis, broke all ten fingers and mangled one of her legs which required numerous surgeries and a year and a half of therapy, Shirley would not return to the sport until the late 1980's. When she did return she raced only the IHRA circuit and Match race events. She only ran select events in the Nhra and in 2003 Shirley Muldowney officially retired from racing.

Today, Shirley is still passionate about the sport that she loves so dearly, it was rumored that she was thinking about putting a Top Fuel Team together with a Female driver of course. I would love to see that happen! If you get a chance you need to rent the DVD "Heart Like A Wheel" the story of Shirley Muldowney, it is a great movie about Shirley and Jack Muldowney along with Connie Kalitta.


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