DRAG RACING LEGEND SHIRLEY MULDOWNEY TO SERVE AS GRAND MARSHAL OF THE O’REILLY AUTO PARTS ROUTE 66 NHRA NATIONALS
Muldowney Will Make Various Appearances Throughout the Weekend
Joliet, Ill. – May 8, 2014 – Route 66 Raceway™ today announced Shirley Muldowney as the Grand Marshal of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, June 26-29 at Route 66 Raceway. Muldowney will appear throughout the four-day weekend at various autograph sessions and Championship Sunday’s pre-race ceremonies and track walk.
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 world 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 world championship crown in 1982, while simultaneously being awarded the Top Fuel Driver of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Shirley Muldowney’s career also featured its share of adversity, including a nearly fatal 1984 crash that could have ended her career. A tire failure caused a crash at over 250 mph, resulting in a myriad of injuries, including severely broken legs. After several months of grueling rehab just to begin to walk, Muldowney was back in a dragster and earning 1986’s “Comeback Driver of the Year” award.
As a member of both the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and the Don Garlits International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, Muldowney is widely recognized as one of the sports true pioneers. With female drivers currently only one win shy of 100 in National events, they can thank Muldowney and her 18 wins for laying the foundation.
The NHRA Nationals begin with Dialed-in Thursday, where kids 12 and under are admitted for free. Friday Night on Fire, featuring the first night of qualifying for the stars of NHRA, is followed by a jet car finale and a newly added fireworks show for the whole family to enjoy. The following day, All-Star Saturday, features the JEGS Allstars, a competition reserved for 100 of the top ¬Sportsman racers from the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series as they blaze down the track for a share of a $119,000 purse. John Force, Courtney Force, Antron Brown, hometown favorite Tony Schumacher, and company return to the track that evening for a second round of Top Fuel and Funny Car qualifying on Saturday night. The weekend wraps up with the crowning of new track champions on prestigious Championship Sunday, the weekend finale. Championship Sunday features an all-access experience for fans including a track walk, driver introductions and a Winner’s Circle celebration.
Chicagoland Speedway & Route 66 Raceway
Nicole Mancuso Meagher: (815) 722-4180
Patrick Kenny: (815) 722-4166