September '19

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SEPTEMBER 2019 THE SHOP 9 She went on to make racing history, winning championships and honors with inductions into the Motorsports, Interna- tional Motorsports and Automotive Halls of Fame. In 2001 she was ranked No. 5 on the NHRA's 50th Anniversary list of its Top 50 Drivers. LESSONS Talking to Muldowney, I came away with some great advice and words of wisdom for any woman who is looking to make a career in an automotive field, whether it's behind the wheel or behind the tools. Roadblocks There will be roadblocks. Expect them and plan for them. Do your job and do it well. "It was never to my face; it was always behind my back. But there was a difference between me and the average girl that tried to go into the sport," Muldowney says. "I delivered the goods. I won. But there were some people who were worth their weight in gold around the race car." Learn from those around you. And don't let the detractors get under your skin. "It's not going to be easy. And if you want to be good at what you do and get respect, it's up to you. If you want to be respected, you have to know how to handle a lot of different situations. Guys can be jerks." Adaptability You have to be versatile and adapt to changing situations. Try to anticipate what's coming next. Muldowney raced Funny Cars because that's where the money was before moving to Top Fuel. She adapted to whatever it took to remain in the sport. "You can't pick and choose. You have to do every task of your job." Muldowney owned her race team. For her, it was easier to enjoy racing and control her career. "But I had to work hard to maintain it and keep things going. Not every race was a win." Perseverance Nothing discouraged her, not even her devastating 1984 accident at the Sanair Dragstrip where she broke her pelvis, legs, hands and fingers. After numerous surgeries, 17 pins in her body and 18 months of recovery, Mul- downey returned to racing in Phoenix. While she was eliminated before the finals, she won a victory against Larry Minor, with a time of 5.59, a mere 0.03-seconds slower than her previous best. Were there times when she wanted to give up? "No, never. There was not another female out there to take my place and that was my advantage. I had that going for me. The female thing in that sense was going for me. But I had to drive it and win." Patience Keep at it. If it takes years of hard work, then that's what you need to do. "It wasn't until the 1975 World Finals that they really took notice of me. In 1976, I won Muldowney with "Double Trouble," her two-engine Top Gas Dragster. The car was built in 1969 by Don Long. She has said it was the slickest, nicest car she ever owned. Muldowney with Jack, four-year-old son John and her split-window Cor- vette in 1962. In 1971, Muldowney began racing Funny Cars with a Mustang-bodied car she bought from Connie Kalitta. She won her first race with it at Lebanon Valley and ran quicker in it than Kalitta ever did.

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