In the World of Motor Sports, results are often all that matter. For Shirley Muldowney the dual desire to compete and win gave her the impetus to break through barriers—barriers of gender, barriers of pain and barriers of time itself—in the quest for successful results. For the better part of forty years, Shirley Muldowney has been an icon in the field of Motor Sports, and even in her 60’s she continues to hold her own against the best racers on the planet.
Growing up and living through her teen years in New York, Shirley discovered early she had a penchant for speed and competition. In fact she became somewhat of a notorious local street racer in the early days, but was quickly drawn to a growing form of auto competition called Drag Racing. Reportedly, it was so-named because competitors would “drag” out through each gearshift. Drag racing is done on a straight course (normally one quarter-mile) in pairs with the lower elapsed time from start to end measured in seconds determining the winner.
After marrying former husband Jack Muldowney, she continued to pursue what was still considered a “men’s game.” Shirley began racing (and winning) in a variety of sportsman entries through 1964, including a brief stint in a factory experimental car during 1963. Indeed, she discovered there were a few things in life more satisfying than winning, and soon gained a reputation as someone who had no intention of backing down especially in gender-related issues.