Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Drag racing legend Shirley Muldowney diagnosed with lung cancer, will undergo surgery Wednesday in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE (May 24) -- Drag racing legend Shirley Muldowney has been diagnosed with lung cancer and will undergo surgery at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in downtown Charlotte early Wednesday morning to remove her right lung, where a Stage II tumor has grown. Renowned thoracic and cardiac surgeon Dr. Harold Howe will lead the team performing the five-hour-long procedure.

"I urge everyone to keep up with their health and get chest X-rays as often as possible to make sure they are OK," the 75-year-old Muldowney said. "I'm a fighter, always have been, and I'm going to fight this as best I can with everything I got. Dr. Howe is the No. 1 guy in the business, and he's as ready as I am to get this thing out of me.

"I'm ready for the pain to stop. It's been getting worse the last few weeks as they did biopsies and the pre-op stress tests to make sure I was strong enough to have the surgery. Everything is good, so we're getting it done."

Muldowney began racing in the 1950s at Fonda Speedway in New York, driving a dragster built by then-husband Jack. Several years later, in 1965, she became the first woman to earn a professional NHRA license. After a few years of racing gas dragsters, Muldowney switched to Funny Car, and in 1971 she won her first major race, the IHRA Southern Nationals. She also began a long career in match races, battling all the best drivers of the era throughout the mid-1970s.

A move to the Top Fuel class in 1973 helped her burgeoning career blossom. In another major accomplishment, she became the first woman to win an NHRA race in a professional class in 1976, going to the winner's circle at the Spring Nationals in Columbus, Ohio.

The following season she earned the NHRA Top Fuel championship after becoming the first driver in the class to win three consecutive national events. It was the first time a female driver had won a major motorsports title anywhere in the world. Muldowney earned the Top Fuel crown again in 1980 and 1982, and she also earned the AHRA Top Fuel championship in 1981, her fourth major championship in a six-year period.

"The fans have always been what's kept me going, and I'm sure people will be concerned about me now," said Muldowney, who had a movie, Heart Like a Wheel, made about her life. "Well don't be; I'll be fine. There are still a lot of things left I want to do."

In lieu of flowers or cards, Muldowney is asking her friends and fans to donate to her charity, Shirley's Kids, at ShirleysKids.org. Muldowney started the charity this year and already has helped four children in need with large cash donations at races in Gainesville, Fla.; Charlotte; Houston; and Atlanta. Because of corporate support, Shirley's Kids passes through 100 percent of all donations to the children it helps.

"The most joy I've had in years has come this season working with our little team at Shirley's Kids," Muldowney said. "Stan and Sheila Mae Holt have covered all our costs so all the money we raise goes to the kids, and Rob Geiger, Nicci Gustavus, and Frank Bellini have worked tirelessly to make this thing a success.

"If people can find it in their hearts to make a donation, that would brighten my spirits immensely because I know where all the money in this charity goes: Right to the kids that need it. And believe me, we have changed some people's lives for the better.

"Thank you in advance for all the love and prayers. It all helps. My sister (Linda Roque) and niece (Betty Peek) along with Stan and Sheila are here with me, so I'm in great hands."

Because of her pending surgery and the doctor-recommended recovery and rehabilitation time, Muldowney's agent, Rob Geiger, announced that previously scheduled appearances at the NHRA national events in Englishtown, N.J., and Bristol, Tenn., will be canceled. Depending on Muldowney's health moving forward, other appearance dates will be announced on ShirleysKids.org.

Shirley Muldowney started Shirley's Kids this year and already has helped four children in need. Shirley's Kids passes through 100 percent of all donations to the children it helps.
Shirley Muldowney was the first female driver to win a major motorsports title anywhere in the world, earning the NHRA Top Fuel crown in 1977, 1980, and 1982 and the AHRA Top Fuel championship in 1981. (Auto Imagery photo)

Please visit ShirleysKids.org, Muldowney.com, and GeigerMediaGlobal.com for more information.

Monday, May 2, 2016

With support of Shell, Shirley's Kids charity makes biggest donation to date at Houston race

HOUSTON (May 2) -- Drag racing legend Shirley "Cha Cha" Muldowney welcomed 16-year-old Tacey Raulerson of College Station, Texas, into her Shirley's Kids charity Sunday during the 29th annual NHRA SpringNationals, presenting the two-time cancer survivor with $10,000 thanks to the generous donations of Shell and charity founders Stan and Sheila Holt of Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurants.

"God has answered our prayers and we are completely overwhelmed," said Tommy Raulerson, Tacey's mother. "When Shirley Muldowney invited us for a day at the drag races, that was such a thrill and Tacey barely slept the last few days because she's been so excited. Then they got her up on stage with Shirley, and suddenly John Chiboroski from Shell and Stan and Sheila Holt from Lupe Tortilla walk out with a giant check made out to Tacey for $10,000. I almost fainted.

"You have no idea what this means for us. It's truly going to change our lives. The air conditioner at home went out last week, and together with some remodeling we need to do to make the house a little easier for Tacey to get around, we were looking at about $5,000 in expenses. I prayed for God to help us last night, never expecting this at all, and then we come here and get this surprise. We've never felt so loved."

Tacey was first diagnosed with cancer at age 7, and although she successfully conquered the disease at that time, it left her blind. It was during her rehabilitation from that first bout of cancer when she became a drag racing fan as she realized she could hear, smell, and feel the ground-pounding acceleration of 10,000-horsepower dragsters.

Another fight against cancer came a few years later, but once again Tacey emerged victorious, and her unwavering spirit made her an obvious choice for Shirley's Kids, the 501(c)3 charity Muldowney and the Holts started earlier this year. The stated goal of Shirley's Kids is to help a child in need at each of the stops of the NHRA tour that Muldowney visits. So far, three deserving children have been named "Shirley's Kids."

"It touches your heart to be able to help these wonderful children," said Muldowney as she clutched Tacey near. "It's given my life purpose, and for companies like Shell to get involved and help us with our mission, it fills me with happiness. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Shell. Your reward is this beautiful smiling girl."

Chiboroski, marketing manager for Shell, said supporting Shirley's Kids became a priority for his company soon after they learned of the group's work. Additionally, during Sunday's check presentation to Tacey, he issued a challenge to all the other corporations involved with NHRA drag racing.

"It was an honor for us to be able to help the Raulersons and Shirley's Kids," Chiboroski said. "Shell and our Pennzoil brand have a long history of charitable contributions and our involvement in NHRA drag racing is increasing, so it was natural for us to get involved with Shirley's Kids. Now we want to challenge all the other companies involved in the sport to step up and match our contribution."

For more information, visit ShirleysKids.org.

 John Chiboroski of Shell, left, helps present a $10,000 check to Tacey Raulerson (center, with hat and sunglasses) along with, from left, Stan Holt, Shirley Muldowney, Sheila Holt, Mike Raulerson (partially obscured), and Geoff Seamon.

The term "Shell Lubricants" collectively refers to the companies of Royal Dutch Shell plc that are engaged in the lubricants business. Shell Lubricants companies lead the lubricants industry, supplying more than 12 percent of global lubricants volume. *The companies manufacture and blend products for use in consumer, heavy industrial and commercial transport applications. The Shell Lubricants portfolio of top-quality brands includes Pennzoil®, Quaker State®, FormulaShell®, Shell TELLUS®, Shell RIMULA®, Shell ROTELLA® T, Shell SPIRAX® and Jiffy Lube®.

*Kline & Company, "Global Lubricants Industry July 2015: Market Analysis and Assessment.

Please visit ShirleysKids.org, Muldowney.com, and GeigerMediaGlobal.com for more information.