More than any other racing sanctioning body, the National Hot Rod Association (more commonly known as the NHRA) has welcomed women into its ranks. In fact, women not only regularly compete against men in the same events, but often win in spectacular ways. Read on for a look at the top five female NHRA winners.
1.Angelle Sampey – Pro Stock Motorcycle – 42 Victories
Any list of notable women in motorsports would be complete without Angelle Sampey. Not only was Sampey the winningest woman in drag racing history, but also professional motorsports as a whole. Over the course of her career from 1996 to 2010, Sampey racked up 42 event victories and 3 NHRA Championships in the Pro-Stock motorcycle class. In fact, out of the 506 individual rounds she raced, Sampey managed to win 364, or a mind-boggling win ratio of 71.6%. It’s an absolutely incredible record and it’s doubtful anyone will be able to match it anytime soon.
2. Shirley Muldowney – Top Fuel – 18 Victories
Shirley Muldowney is unquestionably a groundbreaking figure for women in the NHRA. She began her career in 1958 at the age of 18, before going pro in 1965. Muldowney moved up to Top Fuel in 1973, where she ended up winning an unprecedented total of three NHRA Championships before her retirement. Despite her prowess for drag racing, she faced large and vocal opposition from fellow racers and the NHRA, but she was tough. Muldowney said, “[the] NHRA fought me every inch of the way, but when they saw how a girl could fill the stands; they saw I was good for the sport.” Undoubtedly one of the best drag racers of all time, Muldowney pretty much single-handedly opened the NHRA up to women across the country.
3. Erica Enders‐Stevens – Pro Stock – 22 Victories
Erica Enders-Stevens is the winningest woman currently drag racing in the NHRA. At the age of 16, while most of her peers were just getting their driver’s licenses, she became the youngest person to become an NHRA event finalist, earning her the NHRA Sportsman Rookie of the Year title. In 2005, she became the first woman in NHRA history to reach a final round in the pro-stock category, and in that one year achieved more round wins than every other woman in Pro Stock history combined. Enders-Stevens went on to win the NHRA Pro Stock Championship twice in two years, and is still competing today.
4. Courtney Force – Funny Car – 8 Victories
As the daughter of legendary drag racer John Force, to say that Courtney Force has racing in her veins would be an understatement. She made her Funny Car Debut in 2011, where she qualified 12th. In the very next race, she actually eliminated her father in the first round. Her first victory came in 2012, making her the third woman to win a Funny Car event (the first was her sister Ashley). Eventually Courtney surpassed Ashley for the female-win record in Funny Car, and secured the 100th total win by women in the NHRA in 2014.
5. Melanie Troxel – Top Fuel/Funny Car/Pro Mod – 9 Victories
While other drag racers on this list have incredible success in one class, Melanie Troxel has managed to do it in three classes. In fact, she is one of only 14 drivers to ever have a win in both Top Fuel and Funny Car events, and the only person ever to win in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Mod events. While she never secured a championship, she definitely left her mark. She still holds track records across the country and holds the national record for elapsed time and speed in the Pro Mod class.