JOLIET, Ill. — Drag racing legend Shirley Muldowney will attend the Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway on May 31–June 2 to serve as the event’s honorary Grand Marshal.
Muldowney will appear throughout the weekend at various autograph sessions and Championship Sunday’s pre-race ceremonies.
“We are thrilled to host one of the NHRA’s most legendary drivers and a true pioneer for women in the industry at this year’s Route 66 NHRA Nationals,” said Route 66 Raceway President Scott Paddock. “The rich and diverse history of the NHRA has been personified throughout Shirley’s storied career and classifies her as one of the sport’s most prestigious, and we are beyond excited to feature her as the weekend’s Grand Marshal this year.”
Muldowney, named the fifth-best driver in sport history by the NHRA in 2001, made a career of outclassing most of the men in her field with 18 NHRA national event wins, the first coming in 1976, which was the first victory by a woman at a NHRA national event.
The ascent to legendary status continued when she won the 1977 Top Fuel championship, becoming the first woman in history to claim drag racing’s elite crown. She won the same title in 1980, making her the first driver, male or female, to capture the championship twice in a career.
Muldowney also won the AHRA championship in 1981, and followed that up with her third Top Fuel championship in 1982, while simultaneously being awarded the Top Fuel Driver of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Muldowney’s appearance coincides well with a #Route66Nats exhibition by the group Car Chix. Route 66 Raceway will provide the platform for a match made up of female racers by acting as the event’s Grand Marshal.
Lea Ochs will go head-to-head with Georgina Buckley, pitting turbo against nitrous. Ochs was named one of Drag Illustrated Hottest Women in Motorsports in 2019 and Buckley was the first and continues to be the only woman to win a NHRA Wally on drag radial tires. With Muldowney steering this next generation of female racers, their grudge matches are sure to entertain fans of all ages.