Classic American

Shirley Muldowney Drag Racer

Shirley Muldowney, now 78, is a drag racing legend, and I don’t use the word lightly. She is one very determined lady who rose to the pinnacle of a sport which was dominated by men, many of whom resented her racing. In her early days even the crowd threw soda cans at her, but through hard work, grit, determination, and by winning, she won the hearts of the fans and the respect of her fellow racers. She broke records galore, became a four-time American drag racing champion in the premier Top Fuel class and an inductee of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.

Born in 1940, Shirley Roque, as she was back then, grew up in the small town of Schenectady, New York. She left school young, became a waitress, and starting hanging out with the local hot rodders and street racers. One of these was Jack Muldowney, whom she married when she was just 16. Shirley soon got behind the wheel of his car and proved faster than the boys. Having picked up way too many speeding tickets from the local police, the couple started racing at the local dragstrip, Shirley driving and Jack spannering, first in a ’58 Chevy and

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