TWO FOES BURY THE HATCHET, BUT NOT THE COMPETITION | Vault
Even as a teenager, Shirley Muldowney was primarily interested in one thing: Driving a purchasing a used Mustang funny car from Connie Kalitta. Nationals, but it also saw the breakup of the relationship with her first husband. That goal reportedly kept Muldowney going through 17 months of painful. Connie Kalitta, Drag Racing, Class of tumultuous relationship as a crew chief for Hall of Famer Shirley Muldowney which culminated in Rugged individualist Connie Kalitta has captured a big piece of that elusive goal and has fiercely. Air-freight magnate and drag-racing legend Connie Kalitta, 77, looks back on his sometimes stormy but always high-flying career. January Its purpose is for maintenance of my aircraft. C/D: Do you stay in touch with Shirley Muldowney?.
InShirley finished fourth in the NHRA points with landmark wins at the Winter Nationals and the World Finals, while at Columbus, Ohio, one of her favorite tracks, she went to the finals for a record six times in eight years.
After devoting twenty-five years of her life to drag racing, Shirley had for the most part seen and done it all, yet her toughest battle of all lie ahead. A front tire failure on her nitro-fueled dragster caused a high speed crash at over mph that nearly ended her life.
In addition to other injuries, her legs were so badly broken they required extensive and repeated surgeries simply to enable her to walk again.
After many months of grueling physical therapy and recovery, not to mention moral support from close friends and fans, Muldowney was strapping herself back into a race car. InShirley again finished in the NHRA top ten, but decided to change gears for the following season.
TWO FOES BURY THE HATCHET, BUT NOT THE COMPETITION
In her desire to continue on a more profitable level, she decided to move back to the match race trail. This would not be an effort where she would simply appear and make a minor impression; track records became somewhat of a hobby for her as she set no less than twelve new records at various facilities all across America and Canada. In she set a track record at the Fuji International Speedway in Japan of 5. Bythe desire for open competition brought her back to IHRA.
Inshe reached the final round in IHRA competition five straight times, winning three national events back to back. She qualified in the top three at every race and finished the year in the number two spot for top fuel points.
In open competition, she set and re-set the high mile per hour mark for the IHRA national record four times with a standing mark of In four categories names were presented by ballot voting for the persons whose noted accomplishments made an impact on their respective sport. For the women, it was Shirley Muldowney, whose forty years of dedication and devotion have carved her unmistakable mark in the annals of auto racing.
InShirley had another successful year racing. She set track records for top speed or elapsed time at Atco, New Jersey, Milan Michigan, Epping, New Hampshire, and Stanton, Michigan where she not only engraved the new track records, but also set a new performance record for the International Hot Rod Association. Her historical motor sports accomplishments were acknowledged alongside such luminaries as Susan B. Anthony and Eleanor Roosevelt. The season began only seconds after the new millennium began, when Shirley matched up with Don Garlits in a special race at Moroso Motorsports Park in West Palm Beach, Florida and won.
The next highlight of the season was to return to the U. Nationals in Indianapolis, where she qualified and brought down the house with a spectacular wheel stand in the first round. The effort was through the assistance of Goosehead. With the help of Action Performance and Collectibles owner Fred Wagenhals, Shirley was able to return to the Indianapolis event in with a special paint scheme honoring her years as a funny car racer.
The team qualified with their quickest and fastest time to date - 4.
Shirley went on to race at no less than five NHRA races in addition to her match race schedule. She qualified at each stop and went as far as the semifinals at where else Columbus, Ohio!
Kalitta, Connie - Drag Racing -
She continued to beat the boys as well as other women who followed in her footsteps, with a long and distinguished career in professional motor sports as well as paving the way for women to enter the arena.
In the old days, we'd ease the clutch out, and the driver really made a difference. Nowadays, the actual performance of the car Then there were those head-to-heads with Garlits, many of them Battle of the Sexes match races. Though some of their animosity was probably just hype to sell tickets, Gene Snow, a driver who was there from the start of their rivalry, says, "A lot of it was real.
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Her hands, pelvis and legs were crushed in the impact. Muldowney needed a half dozen operations and a year and a half of therapy before she could race again. Her left ankle was permanently fused, and because her right leg is now shorter than her left, she walks with a pronounced limp. After the accident, to her surprise, Big Daddy offered not only his best wishes but also financial help to cover some of her hospital expenses.
Garlits knows a thing or two about accidents. In he lost half of his right foot when his dragster's clutch blew and his car flipped over. He was finally coaxed into retirement by a "upset" the drag racers' euphemism for a flip in Spokane, where he broke some ribs.
He has spent the past two years doing television commentary for Diamond P, an outfit that supplies NHRA coverage to television networks, running his drag racing museum in Ocala, Fla. This spring, Muldowney's crew chief and husband, Rahn Tobler, asked Garlits if he would like to do a little tinkering on Shirley's car. The dragster wasn't running well, and she hadn't won a major title since the Sanair accident.
Muldowney is in the last year of her four-year contract with her sponsor, Performance Automotive Wholesale, a California auto parts supplier.
She needs a new sponsor before February, when the new season begins, which means she needs to start winning. Tobler and Muldowney thought Garlits might be able to help. Big Daddy, in turn, would get a chance to take a firsthand look at the latest in drag racing technology, a useful move should he decide to go back into racing. A match was made, and the two are now known in the pits as Fred and Wilma.
Their car, unfortunately, has behaved like a dinosaur.
Of the eight national events entered since Garlits joined the team, the car failed to qualify in three and lost in the first round four times. Muldowney, though, has no intention of quitting. One of her incentives might be the emergence on the drag racing circuit of Lori Johns, an attractive, year-old debutante from Corpus Christi, Texas, and the first woman since Muldowney to drive Top Fuel cars with some success.
Johns is now seventh in the national rankings, and she is having a splendid year, both on and off the track. She has reached the semifinal round of three nationals so far; she has sponsorship money rolling in from Jolly Rancher candy company; photographers and autograph seekers swarm around her whenever she is out of her car; and she has made recent TV appearances on Current Affair and The Pat Sajak Show. Johns was racing in a sportsman race when a car driven by Jim Van Cleve crossed the center line and flipped over on her racer.
Johns suffered a broken neck, broken back, broken wrist and internal bleeding. She sued Van Cleve for negligence—an action that astounded many racers, including Muldowney. And there was no lawsuit out of that.
In Their Own Words: Shirley Muldowney
Taped to the windshield of Muldowney's truck is a T-shirt bearing the words: Muldowney wears a pink polo shirt with that message embroidered on the front. The phrase comes from a letter that was published earlier this year in an issue of Drag Racing magazine, criticizing a photo of Johns wearing huge black hoop earrings while posing with her Top Fueler. I've never had a picture taken in anything but my fire suit and the shoes I race in," says Johns.