When I was a teenager in the 1960's, my friends and I would spend Sunday afternoons at the drag races. We always went to Island Dragway in Great Meadows, New Jersey. It was a straight quarter-mile track, two cars side by side and the one with the lowest time is the winner. Anyone with a driver's license and a car could race. The cars were categorized by performance, then matched with equal opponents. My high school boyfriend at the time raced his 4-cylinder 1963 (or 64) Pontiac Tempest. Like I said, all you needed was a car, any car.
But then for the grand finale came the dragsters, they're called dragsters because the drivers 'drag' each gear to the limit. These were the professional racers who traveled the country. Some of the people I saw race at Island Dragway were 'Big Daddy' Don Garlits, Conrad 'Connie' Kalitta, Chris Karamesines and Shirley 'Cha Cha' Muldowney. I remember the announcer introducing her as 'Shiftin' Shirley'.
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I've never heard that saying Tolovaj, thank you too for introducing it to me!
Ladies are rare gems among race car drivers. We have a saying about people who race - they are bearing their heads in the bags. But - where would our world be without courageous people? Thank you for introducing Shirley Muldowney!
Good question. I don't know what she drove off the track, but I know she liked her Mustang funny car.
candy47, Mustangs are quite a car, and it shows in the way it handles the "funny" design. Chevy, Ford, Mustang: do you know which one was her favorite on and off the track?
sandyspider, I enjoyed doing the research on Shirley Muldowney, especially since I saw her race when I was a teenager.
Shirley is an amazing woman. Not often you read about a women race car driver.
Thanks CruiseReady. She gave new meaning to 'leader of the pack'!
I have long followed the careers of women at the Indy 500, and was glad to read about a notable female driver in another field of auto racing. Nice article!
Muldowney certainly was a trailblazer in the 1960's for sure.
While not a Winston Cup follower, I am a Nascar fan, and appreciate the racing sport in general. Interesting that Muldowney also drove funny cars and drove a Ford Mustang, sweet!