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Muldowney's Latest Problems Have Little to Do With Gender

January 27, 1998|SHAV GLICK

Shirley Muldowney would rather be at Pomona this week, racing her top fuel dragster against the best the NHRA has to offer. Instead she will be at home north of Mt. Clemens, Mich., where her husband and crew chief, Rahn, probably will be shoveling snow instead of tuning her car.

"I'm disappointed we're not out there in California," she said. "This will be my fifth year on the outside looking in, but we just don't have the sponsorship it takes to run with the NHRA. I've still got that kick-ass attitude, I still think I can beat anybody, but it takes money. Right now, our money comes from match racing."

The former three-time world champion is still very opinionated.

"I think my age is hurting me," she said. "I'm 57 and I'm not happy when I hear that I'm being passed over [for sponsor money] for some young person. The world's too youth-oriented.

"And it's too computer-oriented too. Computers are taking everything away from the driver. It's got so all you need to do is just leave the starting line and steer. I'm from the old school, where you need to know what to do, how to handle a situation when you're in trouble. I don't say the younger drivers aren't good, but I do say they don't know the tricks of the trade."

Last year, Muldowney also ran for the International Hot Rod Assn. championship, finishing third, but says this year she'll stick with match races only.

"Racing with the IHRA was a loser, as far as money was concerned, and racing isn't something we want to do out of pocket," she said. "It's a business, and we've got to approach it that way. Unfortunately, that's why you won't see us at Pomona."

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