NHRA Story
Top Fuel pioneer Muldowney discusses upcoming 100th female victory
Tuesday, April 29, 2014


In order for 100 professional wins by a female driver in the NHRA to be possible there had to be a first. Of course, that honor and distinction goes to the legendary Shirley Muldowney, who started the impressive streak with her first career victory in Top Fuel on June 13, 1976 in Columbus.

Ninety-eight more wins by female competitors have followed in the NHRA professional ranks, putting the total at 99 and making the historic 100th win possible heading the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.

That magical number certainly grabbed Muldowney’s attention and she discussed the importance and significance of the landmark achievement.

“I think it’s a terrific thing,” Muldowney said. “A lot of ladies played a big part in getting to 100 wins and it’s good for the sport. Anything that shows women can be competitive with men and come out on top, it’s a good thing. There are a lot of cars capable of getting that 100th win.”

All eyes at Atlanta Dragway will be on the likes of Erica Enders-Stevens in Pro Stock, Alexis DeJoria and Courtney Force in Funny Car, Brittany Force and Leah Pritchett in Top Fuel, and Katie Sullivan and Angie Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle, as the 100th win will be within reach. The event, the seventh of 24 during the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, will once again be televised on ESPN2.

It all started with Muldowney, who overcame adversity and doubters to blaze a path for females in the sport. The pioneer won her first NHRA race in 1976, starting a historic run that included a number of significant moments.

She won her first world championship in 1977, following that with championships in 1980 and 1982. She became the first NHRA driver to win three world championships, as Muldowney became a star attraction in the motorsports world.

“Nobody could hold me back from what I wanted to do,” Muldowney said. “When the NHRA saw that I was capable in the driver’s seat they relaxed and were great. They were very accepting. They knew I could sell tickets and that I had the goods.”

There was no denying that as fans, media members and fellow competitors marveled over her driving ability and fiery personality. Muldowney finished with 18 career Top Fuel victories, including a memorable performance and win at the prestigious U.S. Nationals in 1982. That remains one of her career highlights, as does her championship in 1980.

NHRA founder Wally Parks, right, was among the first to congratulate Shirley Muldowney when she scored her first Top Fuel win at the 1976 Springnationals.

“In 1980, we slayed them,” Muldowney said. “We came out of the box at Pomona with a brand new car that I had never even driven before and we won. I was really proud of that.”

Muldowney’s place in the sport as a pioneer and Hall of Fame driver is certainly secure, but the impact she has had remains impressive. The current crop of female drivers have all remarked on how Muldowney has paved the way for their own successes, and she remains to be blown away from the constant support she has received for more than 40 years.

“Some of the most wonderful things people said to me or said about me just because I drove that race car is really special and unbelievable,” Muldowney said. “It was my life and it means a great deal to me. That tells me I made a difference, had an impact, helped the sport and did something good. It’s amazing to see how I am treated all because of that race car and I can’t say enough how much I appreciate it. I love the sport and I think drag racing the most exciting motorsport around. There’s nothing like it.”

Muldowney will be attentively watching the race weekend in Atlanta with the possibility of the landmark 100th victory by a female driver taking place at Atlanta Dragway.

She also praised the current lineup of female competitors, which includes Pro Stock points leader Enders-Stevens, DeJoria, who posted her first two career victories to start off 2014 in strong fashion, and the Force sisters who have won the Auto Club Road to the Future Award (Rookie of the Year) in consecutive years.

“I think today’s crop is very good,” Muldowney said. “Erica is as good as anybody and is good as I’ve ever seen. She does an incredible job and you don’t see many mistakes from her, and the job all of them are doing is great.”

Mello Yello Series qualifying begins Friday, May 16, with sessions at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, May 17, at 12:30 and 3 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 18. Pro Mod qualifying is set for Friday, May 16 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, May 17 at noon and 2 p.m. Pro Mod eliminations are scheduled for Sunday at 9:30 a.m.

To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, log on to www.NHRATIX.com or call 800-884-NHRA (6472). Children 12 and younger are free.
 

Women entered in the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals:
Top Fuel
Brittany Force
Leah Pritchett

Funny Car
Courtney Force
Alexis DeJoria

Pro Stock
Erica Enders-Stevens

Pro Stock Motorcycle
Angie Smith
Katie Sullivan

Women in NHRA Drag Racing, a brief history:
The following women (listed in alphabetical order by category) have competed in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel (18): Vivica Averstedt, Dannielle DePorter, Vicky Fanning, Gina Ferraro, Brittany Force, Rhonda Hartman-Smith, Lori Johns, Kim LaHaie, Lucille Lee, Shirley Muldowney, Shelly Payne (Anderson), Cristen Powell, Leah Pritchett, Sue Ransom, Joanne Reynolds, Rachelle Splatt,
Melanie Troxel, Hillary Will

Funny Car (14): Alexis DeJoria, Vicky Fanning, Courtney Force, Ashley Force Hood, Rodalyn Knox, Paula Martin, Shirley Muldowney, Paula Murphy, Cristen Powell, Leah Pritchett, Susie Spencer, Melanie Troxel, Della Woods, Carol Yenter

Pro Stock (6): Erica Enders-Stevens, Grace Howell, Judy Lilly, Lucinda McFarlin, Shay Nicols, Shirley Shahan

Pro Stock Motorcycle (16): Dawn Matthews Baugues, Connie Cohen, Vicki Farr, Lori Francis, Linda Jackson, Anne Hansen, Elvira Karlsson, Peggy Lewellyn, Dawn Minturn, Stephanie Reaves, Angelle Sampey, Angie Smith (McBride), Karen Stoffer, Katie Sullivan, Valerie Thompson, Holly Wallace

Female leaders in victories:
1. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle 41 (first at Reading 1996, last at Houston 2007)
2. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel 18 (first at Columbus 1976, last at Phoenix 1989)
3. Erica Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock 8 (first at Chicago 2012, last at Houston 2014)
4. Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle 6 (first at Houston 2004, last at Denver 2011)
5. Melanie Troxel, Top Fuel-Funny Car 5 (first at Pomona 1 2006, TF, last at Bristol 2008, FC)
6. Shelly Payne, Top Fuel 4 (first at Reading 1993, last at Seattle 1996)
Lori Johns, Top Fuel 4 (first at Pomona 1 1990, last at Memphis 1991)
Ashley Force Hood, Funny Car 4 (first at Atlanta 2008, last at Indianapolis 2010)
9. Courtney Force, Funny Car 3 (first at Seattle 2012, last at Epping 2013)
10. Alexis DeJoria, Funny Car 2 (first at Phoenix 2014, last at Las Vegas 1 2014)
11. Lucille Lee, Top Fuel 1 (Atlanta 1982)
Cristen Powell, Top Fuel 1 (Englishtown 1997)
Peggy Llewellyn, Pro Stock Motorcycle 1 (Dallas 2007)
Hillary Will, Top Fuel 1 (Topeka 2008)

Female pro series world champions:
Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel ¬ 3 (1977, 1980, 1982)
Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle ¬ 3 (2000, 2001, 2002)

NHRA Mello Yello Series victories by female drivers:
1. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, June 13, 1976, Columbus, Ohio
2. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Oct. 10, 1976, Ontario, Calif.
3. Muldowney, Top Fuel, June 12, 1977, Columbus, Ohio
4. Muldowney, Top Fuel, July 16, 1977, Englishtown, N.J.
5. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Aug. 7, 1977, Montreal
6. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Feb. 3, 1980, Pomona, Calif.
7. Muldowney, Top Fuel, June 8, 1980, Columbus, Ohio
8. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Sept. 21, 1980, Seattle
9. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Oct. 19, 1980, Ontario, Calif.
10. Muldowney, Top Fuel, March 15, 1981, Gainesville, Fla.
11. Muldowney, Top Fuel, April 26, 1981, Atlanta
12. Muldowney, Top Fuel, March 14, 1982, Gainesville, Fla.
13. Lucille Lee, Top Fuel, April 25, 1982, Atlanta
14. Muldowney, Top Fuel, June 13, 1982, Columbus, Ohio
15. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Aug. 22, 1982, Brainerd, Minn.
16. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Sept. 6, 1982, Indianapolis
17. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Feb. 13, 1983, Pomona, Calif.
18. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Oct. 16, 1983, Irvine, Calif.
19. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Oct. 15, 1989, Phoenix
20. Lori Johns, Top Fuel, Feb. 4, 1990, Pomona, Calif.
21. Johns, Top Fuel, April 22, 1990, Atlanta
22. Johns, Top Fuel, May 6, 1990, Memphis
23. Johns, Top Fuel, May 5, 1991, Memphis
24. Shelly Anderson, Top Fuel, Sept. 19, 1993, Reading, Pa.
25. Anderson, Top Fuel, Feb. 6, 1994, Pomona, Calif.
26. Anderson, Top Fuel, May 5, 1996, Richmond, Va.
27. Anderson, Top Fuel, Aug. 4, 1996, Seattle
28. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 15, 1996, Reading, Pa.
29. Cristen Powell, Top Fuel, May 18, 1997, Englishtown, N.J.
30. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 28, 1997, Topeka, Kan.
31. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 17, 1998, Englishtown, N.J.
32. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 20, 1998, Reading, Pa.
33. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 11, 1998, Memphis
34. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, March 21, 1999, Gainesville, Fla.
35. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 16, 1999, Atlanta
36. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 25, 1999, Englishtown, N.J.
37. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 27, 1999, St. Louis
38. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 10, 1999, Memphis
39. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 9, 2000, Las Vegas
40. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 7, 2000, Atlanta
41. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 18, 2000, Columbus, Ohio
42. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, July 16, 2000, Denver
43. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 9, 2000, Englishtown, N.J.
44. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, March 25, 2001, Houston
45. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 17, 2001, Columbus, Ohio
46. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, July 8, 2001, Pomona, Calif.
47. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, July 22, 2001, Denver
48. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 3, 2001, Indianapolis
49. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 7, 2001, Reading, Pa.
50. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Nov. 11, 2001, Pomona, Calif.
51. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 5, 2002, Atlanta
52. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 2, 2002, Chicago
53. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 30, 2002, St. Louis
54. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 2, 2002, Indianapolis
55. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 16, 2002, Reading, Pa.
56. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 27, 2002, Las Vegas
57. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, March 16, 2003, Gainesville, Fla.
58. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 13, 2003, Houston
59. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 1, 2003, Chicago
60. Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 18, 2004, Houston
61. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 16, 2004, Atlanta
62. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Aug. 1, 2004, Sonoma, Calif.
63. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 10, 2004, Reading, Pa.
64. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Nov. 14, 2004, Pomona, Calif.
65. Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 10, 2005, Houston
66. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 26, 2005, St. Louis
67. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 18, 2005, Reading, Pa.
68. Melanie Troxel, Top Fuel, Feb. 12, 2006, Pomona, Calif.
69. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, March 19, 2006, Gainesville, Fla.
70. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 2, 2006, Houston
71. Troxel, Top Fuel, April 9, 2006, Las Vegas
72. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 21, 2006, Columbus, Ohio
73. Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 1, 2006, Richmond, Va.
74. Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, March 18, 2007, Gainesville, Fla.
75. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 1, 2007, Houston
76. Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 29, 2007, Atlanta
77. Melanie Troxel, Top Fuel, May 6, 2007, St. Louis
78. Troxel, Top Fuel, Sept. 16, 2007, Memphis
79. Peggy Llewellyn, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 23, 2007, Dallas
80. Ashley Force Hood, Funny Car, April 27, 2008, Atlanta
81. Troxel, Funny Car, May 18, 2008, Bristol, Tenn.
82. Hillary Will, Top Fuel, June 1, 2008, Topeka, Kan.
83. Ashley Force Hood, Funny Car, March 29, 2009, Houston
84. Force Hood, Funny Car, Sept. 7, 2009, Indianapolis
85. Force Hood, Funny Car, Sept. 6, 2010, Indianapolis
86. Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, July 24, 2011, Denver
87. Erica Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, July 1, 2012, Chicago
88. Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, Aug. 5, 2012, Seattle
89. Courtney Force, Funny Car, Aug. 5, 2012, Seattle
90. Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, Aug. 19, 2012, Brainerd, Minn.
91. Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, Sept. 30, 2012, St. Louis
92. Force, Funny Car, Feb. 17, 2013, Pomona, Calif.
93. Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, Feb. 24, 2013, Phoenix
94. Force, Funny Car, June 23, 2013, Epping, N.H.
95. Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, Sept. 29, 2013, St. Louis
96. Alexis DeJoria, Funny Car, Feb. 23, 2014, Phoenix
97. DeJoria, Funny Car, March 30, 2014, Las Vegas
98. Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, March 30, 2014, Las Vegas
99. Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, April 27, 2014, Las Vegas