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‘SHIRLEY’ Documentary Details Shirley Muldowney’s Life & Career in Entertaining Way

SHIRLEY, a FOX documentary, delves into the storied life and career of Shirley Muldowney, the pioneering “First Lady of Drag Racing.” This special presentation showcases the extraordinary journey of a woman who not only broke barriers but also set new benchmarks in the world of drag racing.

Shirley Muldowney, a name synonymous with courage, determination, and unmatched skill, has been a trailblazer in the predominantly male sport of drag racing. With a career spanning several decades, Muldowney shattered the glass ceiling, becoming the first woman licensed to compete in the sport’s top echelon, leading to a series of historic victories that changed the landscape of drag racing forever.

SHIRLEY is a refreshing documentary that gives a glimpse into Muldowney’s beginnings and her upbringing. After Muldowney shares how she started drag racing and earned the nickname “Cha Cha,” the story moves on to the second chapter of her career, showing Muldowney earning her NHRA license and match racing days. During this time, Muldowney explains how she faced much adversity from the NHRA and fellow racers.

Muldowney’s list of firsts is staggering: the first woman to earn a Top Fuel license, the first to race in a pro final, the first to win a tour event and a championship, and the first to claim victory at the prestigious U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, among others. Her groundbreaking achievements have left an indelible mark on the sport, inspiring countless others to follow in her footsteps.

Additionally, the film includes areas of her life and career that weren’t as welcomed as the wins, such as her separation from Jack Muldowney, her pivotal partnership with Connie Kalitta, her intense rivalry with fellow racer “Big Daddy” Don Garlits and the loss of her son, John. The documentary also includes Muldowney’s numerous brushes with fire during her Funny Car days and details the horrific crash she had in Top Fuel at the NHRA national event in Montreal, Canada.

However, SHIRLEY does spotlight the highlights of Muldowney’s career. It captures the essence of Muldowney’s spirit while piloting her pink trademark dragster, which led to three NHRA Top Fuel world championships in 1977, 1980, and 1982. The documentary wraps up with Muldowney’s retirement in 2003, called “The Last Pass Tour,” and what she’s doing today.

SHIRLEY features exclusive interviews, archival footage, and behind-the-scenes moments that tell the story of the Schenectady, New York native, leaving fans feeling nostalgic.

Catch the premiere of SHIRELY tonight (March 20) on FS1 at 7 PM ET.

This story was originally published on March 20, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.