September '19

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10 THE SHOP SEPTEMBER 2019 two events and that was when things started to go my way. They realized I was there to stay. You really have to go with the flow and sit back and wait. Wait your turn, and it's a matter of having the right combination. There were days when that car was on a string and the car would run national event times and win the race, and then there were days when nothing went right." Humility Stay real. "The show keeps going with or without you," Muldowney notes. "You can never get so good or so big that you think that you can call the shots, because someone can walk right over you and down the other side. You can go into an event and not qualify, but you still have to pay the crew chief and those employees." Family In most cases, career women have two jobs, one of which is taking care of their families. In the early '70s, Muldowney became a single mom to her son John. But she was a full-time drag racer and team owner and she had to find a way to both take care of her family and keep racing. "Do what it takes to do your job. Racing was my job. It was how we ate. John was with me most of the time. When I went to the West Coast, he would stay with a school- mate. But once he graduated high school, he went on the road full-time with me. He was a fabulous, talented fabricator like his dad. It was always about earning enough to pay our living expenses and put enough aside to pursue our drag racing dreams." Dealing with Bad Days Move on and put it behind you. "I won Indy, my best day ever, and the very next race was Denver and I didn't qualify. There's always another race. Its behind you, it's over, move on to the next." Muldowney's advice to women who are getting a hard time from men in the shop: "Shine on! That's when you give them some of their own medicine. I was able to do that on the starting line. Sometimes I would tell them where they could go. But I became notorious for—not an attitude, mind you—but I could go drag race. I liked a good fight." Your One Thing Muldowney's been retired for 15 years. But she still travels to races and events to talk about racing and visit with her fans, both old and new. When she talks about racing, she lights up. She still lives and breathes drag racing. Talk to her about anything and the con- versation will circle back to drag racing. It was the one thing that she wanted and the secret to her success—to put her full focus on that one thing she wanted, work hard toward it and never look back. Because, no matter what, life is a rocky road. There are going to be ups and downs. The trick is to survive the downs, because at the end of the day, it truly is all behind you. Muldowney advises never to let the prob- lems that other people have affect you, even when they try so hard to alter your career. Only you have the power to shape your life into whatever you want it to be. Whether it's becoming the top-rated technician in your shop, owning your own shop or becoming the first person in history to win not only two NHRA Top Fuel Championships but three, the trick is knowing that your road belongs to you. For Shirley Muldowney the pioneer, there was never a thought of settling for anything less. If your company or event is interested in booking Muldowney, please visit her website: JOANN BORTLES is an award- winning custom painter, air- brush artist, welder/fabricator, tech writer and photojournalist with over 30 years of experi- e n c e i n t h e a u t o m o t i v e industry. She is the author of seven books on automotive, motorcycle and custom painting. Her work has been featured in numerous automotive and motorcycle publications, NBC News, The Today Show, MuscleCar TV and Motor City Masters. JoAnn owns Crazy Horse Custom Paint. Muldowney running against Don Garlits at the Winternationals in 1968. (Photo credit: NHRA) In 1972 with the "Bounty Huntress" Funny Car. Check out this ad for the Milton Speedway in 1965: "Watch out for Cha-Cha Muld- owney!" General Admission was $1.

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