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Shirley Muldowney Drag Racing Queen

Updated on July 12, 2016

The First Lady Of Racing

Shirley Muldowney, better known as Cha-Cha was the first female to take on the world of drag racing. She did so with great opposition and staked her position as Queen of the Drag Strip and the first lady of racing.

Strapped into a top fuel car that at the time topped speeds of over 250 mph, Shirley made her mark in the racing world many times over.

This strong as steel woman should also be know as the titanium princess. Because of Shirley's historical crash on a drag strip one fateful night, titanium metals are now used in car chassis and safer because of her. She recovered from frightening injuries to assume her role as Racing Royalty.

This woman is not only a legend, she is my hero. Growing up on a dragstrip and the racing garage, Shirley was one of my role models. Around the track, there were very few women. That is changing today as girls take their place side by side in a world that is still dominated by men. What can we learn from women like her?

Auto Racing: Shirley Muldowney 8x10 Autographed Photo

Shirley Muldowney Racing Videos

There is nothing more exciting to a race fan than the smell of a burn out and the scent of top fuel exhaust in the air. The anticipation of watching a legend like Shirley take her place next to an opponent in the staging lanes is bliss! The engines roar in wild reverberations causing every cell of your body to stand at attention. It is an incredible sight to witness!

Below you will find some of Cha Cha's more memorable moments captured in video.

Shirley's Life Story - Heart Like A Wheel

In the movie Heart Like A Wheel, Shirley's struggles are played out in full form. She was a rebellious lady and refused to let gender bias stand in her way. Through her perseverance and strong will she became a leader among a once male dominated sport. Anyone who stood next to her on the quarter mile racetrack was in for a rude awakening as was anyone who tried to play her down anywhere else. Shirley knew what she wanted to do and she blazed her own trail as an NHRA Legend.

An NHRA Legend

The Muldowney Name Forever Etched In Racing History

Here are some of Shirley's statistics according to Wikipedia and why she is an NHRA Legend:

She [Shirley Muldowney] won the NHRA Top Fuel championship in 1977, 1980 and 1982, becoming the first person to win two and three Top Fuel titles. She has won a total of 18 NHRA national events. Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Muldowney

That's quite an accomplishment for anyone let alone a woman in the racing world. Notice they mentioned she was the first PERSON not just woman to win those titles! She was a pioneering force in drag racing and will be forever etched in the history of this sport. Not only her record but her biography will always be found in the chronicles of NHRA history.

Because of drivers like Shirley, cars are made safer not only on the track but on the road because of their mechanical testing and experiences both the successful ones and the failures. What they learn on the track in the racing scene manufacturers can apply to safety features in our family cars.

Drag Racing Poster by Garage Art - Amazon
Drag Racing Poster by Garage Art - Amazon

Top Fuel Cars

The Fastest Cars On The Track

Top fuel cars are the fastest cars on the track shy of the jet engine powered cars of today. In drag racing, these are the cars most of us wait to see. With a wail of exhaust, today's cars can top speeds well over 350 mph in their short trip down a track that is only one quarter of a mile long.

The action required in high performance racing is reduced to split seconds. The driver becomes more of a passenger in the car than driver as they ride these snarling beasts down the racetrack. There are few moves to piloting a top fuel car. Staging at the starting light, punching the throttle, pull the chute, and shutting her down. Any variance in timing can be disastrous. These cars move incredibly fast and the driver has to be completely focused. Most of what a driver does is hang on for dear life and fight the steering mechanism to keep the front end straight and on the track. These cars are essentially a rocket with wheels.

The rumble of a top fuel car is like no other sound in the world. To me it is music, a symphony. The pressure generated by these vehicles makes your chest vibrate and will make your ears ring like a you have been at a rock concert if you do not wear hearing protection. If you see one of these cars live you will know exactly what I mean. The staging of a car at the starting line is full out auto drama. They do a burnout to heat the tires and caste a rubber slick as they take off from the green light.

Drag Racing Poster

What Shirley taught me was to stick to your goals. Dreams can be achieved if you only put your mind to the effort of having them fulfilled and work hard for them. Anyone can have a dream but it is the strong individual that makes them a reality. Women like this gal have shown me that it is ok to do the things you are passionate about and don't let anyone take that away from you.

I hope you enjoyed our little trip to the drag strip to meet my hero!

Thanks for visiting!

Guestbook Comments - And Review

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    • MBurgess profile imageAUTHOR

      Maria Burgess 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      @anonymous: She is total inspiration! Thanks for stopping by the grand stands, Tipi! =)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      I have admire Shirley since the first time I heard about her racing. She's amazing! :)

    • MBurgess profile imageAUTHOR

      Maria Burgess 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      @kimberlyschimmel: I bet you have some great racing stories! Thanks for the visit!

    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 

      5 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      I grew up in Indy and love this lens. Shirley is a role model.

    • MBurgess profile imageAUTHOR

      Maria Burgess 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      @Cynthia Haltom: She is an amazing lady. Thanks for the comments and visit!

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 

      5 years ago from Diamondhead

      What a wonderful story. I never knew the story behind Shirley, thanks for teaching me something new. Great Job on you lens!

    • MBurgess profile imageAUTHOR

      Maria Burgess 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      @anonymous: She is an amazing lady! Thanks for the comment and visit!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      What an interesting woman. Thanks for sharing!

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