Shirley Muldowney Biography
Like Husband, Like Wife, Chronology, Funny Cars—not So Funny, Comeback Of The YearCONTACT INFORMATION
American race car driver
Professional drag racing driver Shirley "Cha Cha" Muldowney is not just "good for a girl." Though she was the first woman to accomplish many feats in the sport, many of her records and claims are for the sport as a whole, regardless of gender—she is one of the most successful drag racers in history. She is second all-time in National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) history winner with seventeen titles, including three Top Fuel world championships. In her prime, she was a threat to many of the greatest names in drag racing, including Conrad "Connie" Karlitta, Don Garlits, and Tommy Ivo. In her sixties, she continues to race, though not competitively. As a fan favorite and history maker, she is popular at exhibition races.
Muldowney was born Shirley Roque on June 19, 1940, in Burlington, Vermont. She grew up in Schenectady, New York, with her father, Belgium Benedict, a taxicab driver and professional boxer, and mother, Mae, who worked in a laundry. As a girl, she showed no indication for her penchant for racing. Though she was agile and well coordinated, Muldowney was more interested in dancing, dating, and wearing pretty clothes than she was in any sport, let alone car racing. In fact, she dropped out of high school at age sixteen and married Jack Muldowney, a drag racer and mechanic, in 1956. When she married, Shirley Muldowney did not even know how to drive a car.
Sketch by Brenna Sanchez
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