Who Is the First Lady of Drag Racing?

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American Shirley Muldowney has been given the nickname "the First Lady of Drag Racing" thanks to her trailblazing efforts at a time when not many women were involved with the sport. In addition to being a pioneer for women in a male-dominated sport, Muldowney is also a record-breaking racer. Muldowney was the first woman to receive an official Top Fuel dragster license from the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), the governing body of drag racing, and she went on to win multiple NHRA Top Fuel championships. Muldowney's wins in 1977 and 1980 made her the first person to ever win two Top Fuel titles.

In 1982, Muldowney won an additional Top Fuel championship, making her the first person to ever win three titles. Muldowney was part of a group of women who were advocating for a female presence in the drag racing world. Others include Judi Boertman and Della Woods. As a racer, Muldowney struggled with the inherent sexism of the racing world, having difficulties finding sponsorship and crews in the same way that her male counterparts did. In spite of this, she didn't shy away from displaying a traditionally feminine identity at the track and painting her cars bright pink.