As much as we love Shirley Muldowney, Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick, it’s hard to imagine that any of them would have had an easier route if another Shirley hadn’t bulldozed her way into the nearly all-male world of professional motorsport during the 1960s. When Shirley Shahan first slid behind the wheel of her husband’s stocker, women in drag racing tended to wear skimpy outfits, plant kisses and fork over trophies, but little else. As this book by the hugely respected American Motors Corporation historian Patrick Foster makes clear, Shirley Shahan changed all that forever. She silenced critics by winning Stock Eliminator at the very first running of the legendary March Meet in Bakersfield, California, and then backed it up by winning the same category at the 1966 NHRA Winternationals.
Shirley Shahan: The Drag-On Lady is a hugely affectionate 176-page softcover journey through the lady’s progression to legitimate drag-strip stardom, as much a Sixties stocker star as Dick Landy and Hayden Proffitt, to name two, and fueled by factory alliances with Chrysler at the height of its factory-lightweight greatness and later, the aforementioned AMC. It’s a rounded, layered tale, crafted with the subject’s full cooperation. Diversity in global motorsport is very much a timely topic right now, and this book does yeoman work in explaining how the concept really got started. Good job. It’s published by CarTech, and to find it, we seriously recommend that you check out the author’s website, Olde Milford Press, which offers an impressive selection of historical books on the great American independent auto manufacturers that included AMC, with volumes on cars as diverse as the Dual Ghia and King Midget available on the site.