Nov. 9: Shirley Muldowney, pioneering woman drag racer, retires on this date in 2003

Justin Hyde

Shirley Muldowney never cared for the nickname "Cha Cha," one she grudgingly used for a couple of racing seasons in the 1960s, when simply being the first woman to ever win a license to compete in the top class of the National Hot Rod Association somehow wasn't enough. Like most sports pioneers, Muldowney was always having to prove herself, against the mechanics who thought working on her cars was a step down, against the crowds who would jeer her, against the NHRA itself in some cases. Muldowney would deserve credit for merely persevering; instead, she whupped them -- winning three national NHRA championships and running 157 NHRA national events. On this date in 2003, she ran her last race, a heat at Pomona Raceway in California, fast until the end:

Top photo: Getty

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