First, let me apologize at the onset. I’m not going to mention every famous femina drag racer in this category – just the top 5 that attracted MY attention. Drag racing is really the only sport where women and men stand side-by-side in competition and these women here, shown more brightly than others. Oh, BTW, femina is latin for female. Onwards.
- Number 5 Peggy Llewellyn – Peggy has in her own right, overcome hurdles that no one in drag racing has. As both a woman and black woman at that (Jamaican/Mexican American descent), she has accomplished what no other black women have and that’s a Top 5 finish of the points in a NHRA Pro Series. She’s also the only black woman to win a Final in a Pro class and further, is the only woman to qualify in the final NHRA Countdown. Although her career has been relatively brief, her accomplishments have been far-reaching. Hope to see her full-time in 2011.
- Number 4 Ashley Force Hood – Ashley’s career, like Peggy’s hasn’t been long in the Pro ranks but it has been memorable. Up until her wins, she was only known as the daughter of John Force and being voted “Hottest Athlete” in the world a few years ago. But now Ashley is better known as the first woman to ever lead the Funny Car’s in points, plus she also was the first woman to ever win a Funny Car Final. Within a handful of years, she’s the most accomplished woman Funny Car driver in history. Ashley will be taking off the 2011 season to have a baby but I’m sure she’ll return soon.
- Number 3 Bunny Burkett – Some of you may not remember Bunny but she was one the earlier drag racing women and actually won her first event in 1964. She would become known as a successful Alcohol Funny Car driver (1986 IHRA Champion) in the 80’s and 90’s. Her’s was a tough row, having to strut her stuff (yea, it wasn’t glamorous) in the early years to make a buck. Many tough years of mending after accidents and health issues, Bunny was still making appearances through last year.
- Number 2 Angelle Sampey – As the woman with the most championships and wins, Angelle’s career was remarkable to say the least. During her best years from 2000-2002, she had no peer. Angelle dominated Pro Stock bike like no one before or since and was a superstar for awhile. Along with her 3 Championships, she also won 41 meets, an astounding fete for anyone, let alone a female motorcycle driver. She also held a record of 182 consecutive races without a DNQ – unbelievable. Angelle retired last year and is now about to have her first baby in a month or so.
- Number 1 Shirley Muldowney – Not surprisingly, Shirley is the bellwether of women racers – in all motorsports. No woman racer is as consummate a leader and blazed a trail as wide and long as Shirley Muldowney has. Ranked in the Top 5 all-time greatest drag racers, much has been written about Shirley. Her path and shadow is huge and offers the others listed here and all other women racers, a course and direction that I’m sure will go down in the annals. She had a hellacious accident in the 80’s that sideline her for a time but she battled back like everything else in her career. A match-race phenom (to make money), Shirley still found time to win 3 NHRA Top Fuel Championships and is in every Hall of Fame she can be in. What more can be said of one of greatest racers – and will probably always be #1. Did she ever retire?
Yes, there are others who should be noted, such as past icons, Shirley Shahan, Lucille Lee and current women drag racers, Melanie Troxel, Erica Enders and Karen Stoffer. On the Nostalgia side, Leah Leduc and Mendy Fry have made great strides. Drag racing nowadays has more and more women all the time and they’re are many more coming up through the ranks. We’re lucky.