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Shirley Muldowney Net Worth | Is Shirley Muldowney Still Alive?

What is Shirley Muldowney’s net worth? Is Shirley Muldowney still alive?


Shirley Muldowney, nicknamed the “First Lady of Drag Racing,” is an American auto racer and the first woman to win a national pro-NHRA event. She won a total of 18 NHRA national events.

The Origin Story

She was born on June 19, 1940, in Schenectady, New York, as Shirley Ann Roque.

Shirley discovered her love for cars at an early age, frequently accompanying her father, a mechanic, to the garage.

By the age of 16, she had already started street racing. It wasn’t just a pastime but a passion that would shape her future in unimaginable ways.

The First Woman to Obtain a NHRA License

connie kalitta shirley muldowney relationship

Shirley Muldowney, Professional Auto Racer, Portrait, circa early 1980’s – @Getty

In 1965, Muldowney became the first woman to obtain an NHRA license and, subsequently, the first woman to compete professionally in drag racing. 

In 1971, she won her first major event, the IHRA Southern Nationals.

On June 13, 1976, Muldowney secured a victory at the Spring Nationals and became the first woman to triumph in a Pro category at a National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) national event.

Heart Like a Wheel

shirley muldowney and connie kalitta relationship

Shirley Muldowney / ‘Cha Cha’ Muldowney competing in the National Hot Rod Association – @Getty

Muldowney’s career in drag racing was immortalized in the 1983 film “Heart Like a Wheel.”

The film stars Bonnie Bedelia in the role of Muldowney and Beau Bridges as fellow racer Connie Kalitta. Jonathan Kaplan directed the film.

Near-Fatal Accident

In 1984, Muldowney faced a near-fatal accident during a race in Montreal.

Her dragster blew a tire, causing it to flip and catch fire.

Muldowney suffered severe injuries (crushed her hands, pelvis, and legs) and had to undergo multiple surgeries. 

After two years of physical therapy, she returned to racing, showcasing her indomitable spirit. “I’m lucky to be alive,” she said on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” in 1986.

In 2008, a group of motorsport specialists convened by ESPN ranked the top 25 racers in history. In this prestigious listing, Muldowney, the “First Lady of Drag Racing,” secured the 21st position.

She raced until her retirement at the end of the 2003 season.

Shirley Muldowney Net Worth Is Shirley Muldowney Still Alive

Shirley Muldowney is interviewed after winning Top Fuel Eliminator at the First Annual Quaker State North Star Nationals – @Getty

In 2004, Muldowney was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, cementing her legacy in auto racing.


In 1956, Shirley married Jack Muldowney at a young age (16 years old), and he was instrumental in kickstarting her racing career. She even said once: “Without Jack Muldowney, there would have been no drag racing career for Shirley Muldowney.”

However, their relationship ended in divorce (1972). Jack passed away in 2007 at age 70 after a battle with cancer.

Relationship with Connie Kalitta

After her divorce from her husband Jack in 1972 due to differing aspirations in the racing world, she began a romantic relationship with Connie Kalitta — the CEO of Kalitta Air and the owner of Kalitta Motorsports.

He served as her crew chief, and the pair collaborated professionally, with Kalitta constructing what Muldowney would later refer to as her best car.

Second Marriage

From 1988 to 2006, Shirley Muldowney was married to Rahn Tobler. Tobler was her pit boss.


Shirley has a son, John, with her first husband, Jack Muldowney. John is a well-known nitro tuner and fabricator.

shirley muldowney crash


Shirley Muldowney – Net Worth

Muldowney earned most of her wealth from competing in drag racing. She has raced equally against the men for over 40 years and won the NHRA Top Fuel championship three times.

Her memoir, Shirley Muldowney’s Tales from the Track, was published in 2005. She continues participating in the sport, contributing to her income. Therefore, Shirley Muldowney has an estimated net worth of $1.5 million.

Is Shirley Muldowney still alive

Shirley Muldowney poses with her award for being inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame at the 2005 Automotive Hall of Fame Inductions – @Getty

Is Shirley Muldowney still alive?

At the time of writing, Shirley Muldowney is indeed still alive. Despite her retirement from professional racing, Muldowney remains active in the drag racing community. Her official Facebook page shows that she continues to engage with fans and share updates about her life and career. Muldowney also operates a charitable organization, Shirley’s Kids.


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