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Shirley Muldowney - Comeback Of The Year

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In 1976, Muldowney became the first woman to win a Pro class at an NHRA event when she won the Spring Nationals. She also won the World Finals that year and finished the season fifteenth in the points. The next great obstacle before Muldowney was to win the NHRA Winston Top Fuel Championship, which she did in 1977, 1980, and 1982, becoming the first person to claim more than one title. Muldowney's competitive nature and fierce determination were captured in the 1983 feature Heart Like a Wheel.

In 1984, a front-tire failure caused her car to veer off the track and into a ditch at 250 mph during qualifying at Le Grandnational in Montreal, Canada. Her legs were so badly broken they required numerous surgeries and months of grueling physical therapy before she could even walk again. She won the AARWBA's "Comeback Driver of the Year" award in 1986 after her triumphant return to the track. 1989 marked Muldowney's final NHRA win, at Fall Nationals. She also broke the four-second barrier with a time of 4.97 seconds at 294.98 mph.

Muldowney then switched her focus to the match race scene, where contestants are guaranteed a fee. She drives in events for the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA), and is swarmed by autograph-seeking fans wherever she goes. She married Rahn Tobler—her former crew chief—in 1988, and lives in Armada, Michigan. She continues to set track records on racing circuits around the world.

Awards and Accomplishments

1971 First place, NHRA Southern Nationals in Nitro Funny Car Class
1972 Second place, NHRA Southern Nationals in Nitro Funny Car Class
1975 Second place, NHRA Spring Nationals
1975 Voted first woman member of Auto Racing All-America team by American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA).
1976 First place, NHRA Spring Nationals and NHRA Winston World Finals; named Drag News Top Fuel Driver of the Year; voted to Auto Racing All-American Team
1977 First place, Winston World Championship; Outstanding Achievement Award, U.S. House of Representatives; named Drag News Top Fuel Driver of the Year; named Person of the Year, Car Craft magazine
1978 Voted to Auto Racing All-America Team
1979 Voted into the 250 MPH Club
1980 First place, Winston World Championship; second place, American Hot Rod Association (AHRA) World Championship
1981 First place, AHRA World Championship; voted to Auto Racing All-America Team; voted to Car Craft All-Star Team, and Top Fuel Driver of the Year
1982 First place, Winston World Championship; voted to Auto Racing All-America Team; voted to Car Craft All-Star Team, and Top Fuel Driver of the Year; Jerry Titus Memorial Award, AARWBA
1986 Comeback Driver of the Year, AARWBA
1989 Wins NHRA Fall National
1992 Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award for courageous action in overcoming adversity to excel in sport, U.S. Sports Academy
1996 Named to the AARWBA All-American second team; second place, International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Championship Series
1997 Third place, IHRA National Championship; voted one of Top 25 Professional Female Athletes (1972-1997), U.S. Sports Academy; named to the AARWBA All-American second team
1998 Named one of thirty Women of Distinction, New York State Senate
2000 First place, Autofest 2000 New Year's Eve race against rival Don Garlits; Second place, IHRA Performance Parts Nationals
Shirley Muldowney - Awards And Accomplishments [next] [back] Shirley Muldowney - Funny Cars—not So Funny

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