Shirley Muldowney Net Worth (2024)

Shirley Muldowney Net Worth (2024)

Shirley Muldowney, also known as the "First Lady of Drag Racing," is a name synonymous with speed, resilience, and breaking barriers. Her journey from modest beginnings to becoming a three-time NHRA Top Fuel Dragster champion is an inspirational tale of perseverance and determination.

Full NameShirley Ann Roque Muldowney
OccupationDrag Racer
Date of BirthJune 19, 1940
Birth PlaceBurlington, Vermont, USA
CountryUnited States
Net Worth (2024)$2 Million
Source of IncomeRacing, Endorsements, Appearances
Height5 feet 5 inches
Weight125 lbs
Family MembersJohn Muldowney (ex-husband), John Muldowney Jr. (son)

Early Life and Background

Shirley Ann Roque was born on June 19, 1940, in Burlington, Vermont. Her early years were marked by a burgeoning interest in cars and racing, a passion that would define her life and career. She married Jack Muldowney at the age of 16, and the couple moved to Schenectady, New York, where her racing career began.

The Beginnings of a Racing Career

Shirley’s first foray into the world of drag racing was in the late 1950s. She started with a 1958 Chevrolet and soon moved up to a 1963 Corvette Stingray. Her early races were local events, but her talent quickly became evident.

Breaking Into the NHRA

In 1965, Shirley Muldowney became the first woman to receive a license from the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) to drive a Top Fuel dragster. This was a groundbreaking achievement, as the sport was predominantly male-dominated at the time.

The Rise to Stardom

Shirley’s rise to stardom was not without its challenges. In the early 1970s, she faced numerous obstacles, including skepticism from male counterparts and financial difficulties. Despite these hurdles, she continued to race and improve her skills.

The First NHRA Win

In 1976, Shirley Muldowney made history by becoming the first woman to win an NHRA national event in a professional class. She triumphed at the Springnationals in Columbus, Ohio, driving a Top Fuel dragster. This victory was a significant milestone in her career and in the sport of drag racing.

The 1977 NHRA Top Fuel Championship

In 1977, Shirley clinched her first NHRA Top Fuel championship. This achievement was monumental, as she became the first woman to win a championship in the NHRA’s premier category. Her victory was a testament to her skill, determination, and the breaking of gender barriers in motorsports.

Financial Struggles and Sponsorship Deals

Despite her success, Shirley faced financial struggles throughout her career. Sponsorships were hard to come by, and she often had to rely on her own resources. However, her perseverance paid off when she secured a sponsorship deal with Pioneer Electronics in the late 1970s, which provided much-needed financial support.

The Second and Third NHRA Championships

Shirley continued to dominate the drag racing scene, winning her second NHRA Top Fuel championship in 1980 and her third in 1982. These victories solidified her status as one of the greatest drag racers of all time.

The 1984 Crash and Comeback

In 1984, Shirley’s career faced a significant setback when she was involved in a horrific crash during a race in Montreal, Canada. The accident left her with severe injuries, including broken legs, hands, and pelvis. Many doubted she would ever race again.

However, Shirley’s indomitable spirit saw her make a remarkable comeback. After extensive rehabilitation, she returned to racing in 1986, proving her resilience and passion for the sport.

The Later Years and Retirement

Shirley continued to race competitively into the 1990s. She retired from professional drag racing in 2003, ending a career that spanned over four decades. Her impact on the sport, however, remains indelible.

Financial Overview and Net Worth

As of 2024, Shirley Muldowney’s estimated net worth is $2 million. Her primary sources of income have been her racing career, endorsements, and public appearances. Despite the financial struggles she faced early in her career, her perseverance and success have ensured a comfortable retirement.

Earnings and Sponsorships

Throughout her career, Shirley earned significant income from race winnings, sponsorship deals, and endorsements. For instance, her deal with Pioneer Electronics in the late 1970s was reportedly worth $200,000 annually, a substantial amount at the time.

Investments and Assets

Shirley has made prudent investments over the years, including real estate and stocks. She owns a modest home in Michigan and has invested in several business ventures, ensuring a steady income post-retirement.

Challenges and Triumphs

Shirley’s career was marked by numerous challenges, including gender discrimination, financial difficulties, and serious injuries. However, her triumphs far outweighed these challenges. She broke numerous records, won multiple championships, and paved the way for future generations of female racers.

Industry Recognition and Awards

Shirley Muldowney’s contributions to drag racing have been widely recognized. She was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1990 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2004. Her story was also immortalized in the 1983 biographical film "Heart Like a Wheel," where she was portrayed by actress Bonnie Bedelia.

Quotes from Industry Experts

"Shirley Muldowney is a pioneer in the truest sense. Her achievements in drag racing are unparalleled, and her legacy continues to inspire racers around the world." – Don Garlits, Drag Racing Legend

"Shirley’s resilience and determination have set a benchmark in motorsports. She has shown that with skill and perseverance, one can overcome any obstacle." – John Force, 16-time NHRA Funny Car Champion

Opinions from Associated People

"Racing with Shirley was always a challenge. She was fierce, competitive, and never backed down from a race. Her presence on the track was formidable." – Connie Kalitta, fellow drag racer

"Shirley was not just a competitor; she was a friend and mentor. Her guidance and support have been invaluable to many in the racing community." – Angelle Sampey, three-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Champion

Legacy and Impact on Future Generations

Shirley Muldowney’s legacy extends beyond her racing achievements. She has been a role model for aspiring female racers, demonstrating that gender is no barrier to success in motorsports. Her perseverance and determination have inspired countless individuals to pursue their dreams, regardless of the obstacles they may face.

Personal Life

Shirley’s personal life has been as eventful as her racing career. She divorced Jack Muldowney in the 1970s but remained close to her son, John Muldowney Jr. She has been a vocal advocate for women’s rights and has used her platform to support various charitable causes.

Shirley Muldowney Today

Today, Shirley remains active in the racing community, often attending events and mentoring young racers. She continues to be a source of inspiration and a symbol of resilience and determination.

FAQs About Shirley Muldowney

  1. What is Shirley Muldowney’s current age?

    • Shirley Muldowney is 84 years old as of 2024.
  2. What is Shirley Muldowney’s height and weight?

    • She stands at 5 feet 5 inches and weighs approximately 125 lbs.
  3. Who was Shirley Muldowney’s spouse?

    • She was married to Jack Muldowney, but they divorced in the 1970s.
  4. Who are Shirley Muldowney’s parents?

    • Shirley’s parents were Belgium immigrants who settled in Vermont.
  5. What is Shirley Muldowney’s estimated net worth in 2024?

    • Her estimated net worth in 2024 is $2 million.
  6. What were the major challenges in Shirley Muldowney’s career?

    • She faced gender discrimination, financial difficulties, and serious injuries, including a major crash in 1984.
  7. What are Shirley Muldowney’s notable achievements?

    • She is a three-time NHRA Top Fuel Dragster champion and the first woman to win an NHRA national event in a professional class.
  8. What is Shirley Muldowney doing today?

    • She remains active in the racing community, attending events, and mentoring young racers.


Shirley Muldowney’s journey from a small-town girl to a drag racing legend is a testament to her unwavering determination and passion for the sport. Her achievements have not only redefined the boundaries of what women can accomplish in motorsports but have also left an indelible mark on the history of drag racing. Shirley’s legacy continues to inspire and motivate future generations, ensuring that her story will be told for years to come.

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