On June 13th, 1976, Shirley Muldowney became the first woman to win a NHRA national event with her victory in Columbus, Ohio. This weekend at zMAX Dragway, eight women are entered in the four professional categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle – for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, taking place April 11th through 13th. To date, 14 women have won an NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event, and this weekend the 100th victory by a woman could be seen.
Women competing this weekend for a spot in the Four-Wide Nationals are:
Top Fuel –
· Brittany Force – Castrol Edge dragster
· Leah Pritchett – Gumout/Dote Racing dragster
Funny Car –
· Courtney Force – Traxxas Ford Mustang
· Alexis DeJoria – Patron XO Cafe Toyota Camry
Pro Stock –
· Erica Enders-Stevens – Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro
Pro Stock Motorcycle –
· Angie Smith – Kandy Magazine/Stockseth Racing Buell
· Katie Sullivan – Tough Girl Designs Suzuki
· Elvira Karlsson – Elvira Racing Suzuki
Muldowney’s historic victory was the first of 18, with wins spanning from 1976 to 1989. Angelle Sampey leads all women racers with 41 victories in the PSM class spanning from 1996 to 2007, while Enders-Stevens ranks third on the all-time list with seven Pro Stock victories since 2012. Other winners are Karen Stoffer (PSM – 6), Melanie Troxel (TF and FC – 5), Shelley Payne (TF – 4), Lori Johns (TF – 4), Ashley Force Hood (FC – 4), Courtney Force (FC – 3), Alexis DeJoria (FC – 2), Lucille Lee (TF – 1), Cristen Powell (TF – 1), Peggy Llewellyn (PSM – 1) and Hillary Will (TF – 1). Two women have won NHRA championships: Muldowney in Top Fuel (three – 1977, 1980 and 1982) and Sampey in PSM (three – 2000, 2001, 2002).
“Shirley (Muldowney) certainly paved the way for all of the females who have followed in her footsteps,” said Enders-Stevens. “She is certainly a hero of mine, a legend in our sport. She's an idol, she's awesome. I looked up to her and to Angelle (Sampey) and Shelly Anderson Payne. Those were my heroes when I was a little kid going to the racetrack. My dad drove in the sportsman classes. I'd run around and get autographs. Those are my three favorite women and I'm sure I stood at the back of their pits more than they wanted to see me. She's had a huge hand in us being able to accomplish the things we do now.”
“It would be a wonderful accomplishment. It would be great to go in the history books for something like that, for sure,” said DeJoria. “If Erica gets it, I would be very happy for her. Same with Courtney, Brittany. I think we do support each other, but at the same time, we are racers at heart and very competitive. So we would love to get that for ourselves. If it goes to one of the other ones, I'd definitely be supporting that.”
“It's pretty cool to see my sister Ashley's (Force-Hood) name on that list, to see my name on that list,” said Courtney Force. “But, man, to get the hundredth win for women, it would be amazing. I mean, definitely going to be my goal at this point. If I had a picture-perfect world, honestly it would be me getting 99 and Brittany (Force) getting a hundred all in this weekend. Obviously, Top Fuel runs after us. That would be a picture-perfect world. I definitely hope Brittany gets on that list, too. To get the hundredth, it goes down in the history books. Your name is not going to be coming off that list. It would really be a proud moment if you can have your name next to 100.”
Information and quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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Angelle Sampey - 2006
Angelle Sampey was a three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champ (2000-2002) with 41 victories, which currently leads all women racers in the NHRA.
Melanie Troxel - 2006
Melanie Troxel is the only woman to have won in two NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series classes, with wins in both Top Fuel and Funny Car. Troxel has five combined wins.
Ashley Force Hood - 2010
Ashley Force Hood, daughter of John Force, is a four-time winner in Funny Car, including the 2009 U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis. She finished second in points in 2009, the highest ranking ever for a woman in Funny Car.
Erica Enders-Stevens and Courtney Force - Seattle 2012
At Seattle in 2012, two women stood in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series winner's circle together for the first time: Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) and Courtney Force (Funny Car).
Alexis DeJoria - 2014
Alexis DeJoria, daughter of Paul Mitchell haircare founder John Paul DeJoria and wife of Jesse James, won her first two Funny Car Wallys in the first four races of 2014.
Erica Enders-Stevens - 2014
Erica Enders-Stevens became the first female driver to win in the Pro Stock class in 2012. Since then, she has amassed seven wins, including her most recent win at Las Vegas.