Shirley Muldowney was joined by her son, John, left, as NHRA President Tom Compton announced the dedication of the grandstand in her honor.
NHRA legend Shirley Muldowney was honored Saturday at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil as NHRA President Tom Compton announced the Top Eliminator Club grandstands located behind the starting line at Lucas Oil Raceway has been dedicated in honor of the pioneering three-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion.
It marks only the third time in NHRA’s history that a section of grandstand at an NHRA-owned and operated facility has been named for one of the sport’s legends. Earlier this year, during NHRA’s 60th Anniversary celebration, a section of grandstand at fabled Auto Club Raceway at Pomona was named for Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, and later in March, a section of grandstand at Florida’s Gainesville Raceway was named after “Big Daddy” Don Garlits.
“There is no doubt that Shirley Muldowney is not only one of the greatest drivers in NHRA, but she is also one of the most accomplished women athletes of her time,” Compton said. “It is truly fitting that we dedicate a section of grandstand at the most historic facilities in drag racing, to one of the most historic and popular figures in NHRA’s history.”
Muldowney was named No. 5 in the Top 50 Drivers in NHRA history in 2001, and earned 18 NHRA national events, including a triumphant victory over Connie Kalitta at the 1982 Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. Muldowney helped break the gender barrier in drag racing, laying the path for hundreds of women who followed admiringly in her footsteps.
“It looks like I’ll have a place to sit,” said an emotional Shirley Muldowney after the unveiling. “A lot of times I’ll go into the stands with a hat on trying to be incognito, thinking nobody will recognize me. That’s amazing. Thank you so much to Tom Compton and NHRA for this wonderful moment.”
Her career and accomplishments have been recognized outside the sport of NHRA Drag Racing. Among her many honors and awards include the United States Sports Academy’s Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award and being honored by the New York State Senate, her birth state, as one of the Thirty Women of Distinction, alongside Susan B. Anthony and Eleanor Roosevelt. Muldowney was named one of Sports Illustrated for Women’s top 100 athletes.