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60th Winternationals flashback: Muldowney beats Kalitta for 1980 Top Fuel win

Forty years ago at the Winternationals, the Top Fuel final pitted Shirley Muldowney against Connie Kalitta in one of the event's most intriguing matchups. Relive it now in this historic video.
05 Feb 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
Feature

The 1980 Winternationals Top Fuel final pitted Shirley Muldowney against Connie Kalitta in one of the event's most intriguing matchups. Together in 1977, with Mulowney driving and Kalitta tuning, they won the Top Fuel world championship. They parted company after that and Muldowney suffered through two tough seasons in 1978 and 1979. After winning three times in her '77 championship season, she didn't win at all in 1978 or 1979.

She came to Pomona in 1980 with a brand-new Ron Attebury-built car and in eliminations defeated Mark Oswald, Dave Uyehara, and John Kimble before facing off with No. 1 qualifier Kalitta in the final. Muldowney entered the final as the heavy statistical and crowd favorite after setting low e.t. of 5.84 in the semifinals, then easily defeated Kalitta in the final, 5.94 to 6.03.

“This was a huge win for me and my team," Muldowney said recently. "It was the first time that Connie and I had raced in a final since we’d split so it was important for me to make a statement. I think everyone in the place wanted to see me win because of the tough seasons I had in 1978 and ’79. Even though I beat him, Connie was truly terrific to me at the end of the racetrack.” 

To purchase general-admission or reserved seats for this weekend's 60th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, call 800-884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also are available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate.