As Duane Shields’ transporter rolls into the Strip at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the team begins to unload the Muscle Milk A/Fuel Dragster, Shields will have good reason to pause and look back on a great driving career. After winning 23 national events and a whole host of regional and divisional events in the Top Alcohol Dragster class, this weekend marks the last time Shields will be at the controls of his A/Fueler at an NHRA national event.
For over 26 years, the Las Vegas businessman has been touring the country like many of his professional counterparts in search of championship points and an enjoyable life on the road. While he’ll still be doing that, his role will change to a tuner and mentor as Madison Payne steps in the driver’s seat on a full-time basis except for the Las Vegas event at his home track and a regional race in Reading, Pennsylvania. “I have accomplished everything I want to accomplish so now it’s time to step out of the driver’s seat and let Madison take over. It’s the changing of the guard. I selected these two races as my last hurrah so my friends and family can be there one more time to see me race” Shields said.
Shields began his storied racing career like a lot of Southwest racers competing at the sand drags for 15 years before the attraction of the pavement with its quicker times, high speeds, and large NHRA events become too much to ignore. Shields attended Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School in 1997, and after both he and his team gained some racing experience, they won their first Top Alcohol Dragster title in Sonoma, California in 1999.
The team’s winning momentum opened the door to many more impressive accomplishments including the 2011 NHRA National Championship, seven Regional and Divisional Championships, and the highly coveted US Nationals title. Shields’ last national event win came in Las Vegas when he won the Dodge NHRA Nationals in 2019 with a brand-new dragster.
Anyone with that kind of success eventually has to come to terms with the end of their career and when it’s the best time to step out of the limelight. Shields came up with a well-thought-out plan. “I thought about it long and hard over the last year, and I’ve had my time. But I’m not going anywhere because I still want to be out here as a team owner and spend time with my racing family” he said. With the torch ready to be passed on to Madison it’s highly probable that Shields Racing will continue to be a regular in the Winner’s Circle for years to come.